AFSO 21 helps DoD and MOD do business better

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- WHAT TO KNOW: Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century is the name the Air Force has given to Lean programs. It focuses on Lean thinking by placing emphasis on eliminating needless waste and duplication in every part of the Air Force. For more articles on AFSO 21, visit www.mildenhall.af.mil

Airmen at RAF Mildenhall used Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century to fix several broken processes in the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron. 

One of the biggest things the program has changed is the way Defence
Estates and the Department of Defense communicate. Maj. Matt Kovich, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron operations flight commander applied AFSO 21 to change the way the Air Force in the United Kingdom works with the British government. 

"(The first thing we did was) define what exactly the problems were," the major said. "There are a number of stakeholders in all this and it's very, very important that we identified exactly what the key problems are." 

The problems mostly stemmed from the difference in guidance from both governments on electrical, mechanical, safety and work-management issues. All told, the civil engineer squadron worked out 10 different issues. 

The new changes affect not just the way RAF Mildenhall works with DE, but it has set the same guidelines for all American Air Force-occupied installations in the United Kingdom. 

"DE basically manages the bases the U.S. forces occupy with the agreement of Her Majesty's government, but they are MoD property. We act as stewards of the estate, so in other words, we manage the construction sites for the U.S. to ensure the base is being maintained to U.K regs or U.S. regs, which ever the case may be." 

The new changes will help ensure the program's longevity here. 

"We don't want every new operations flight commander coming in to reinvent the wheel, he doesn't need to," said Paul Grace, Defence Estates manager at RAF Mildenhall. 

"What Major Kovich is doing is actually putting it down in writing and we'll get the benefit in the future because we'll have an operating guide. So if a new operations flight commander comes in, we can say, 'That's how we operate; that's what's been agreed.' He can focus on that and he doesn't need to go back and reinvent the wheel." 

So what does a United Kingdom native think of AFSO 21? 

"My knowledge of AFSO 21 is limited, but if this is an example of AFSO 21 initiatives, I'm all for it. Both the U.K. and the U.S. here have a problem recruiting staff with the right technical expertise so if we can work smarter together, and take away duplication, we're both saving and we're both getting the task done."