Tuesday, October 21, 2008

AF officials outline challenges, needs at logistics conference

by John Scaggs
Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs

10/17/2008 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Approximately 1,200 logisticians heard first-hand at the national Logistics Officer Association conference about Air Force priorities, urgent warfighter needs and sustainment initiatives that will affect their profession.

Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Sue Payton and Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, took the stage together Oct. 13, the first day of the three-day conference in Columbus, Ohio, to provide the most current Air Force perspective on acquisition and logistics.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz also spoke Oct. 13, and Ms. Payton noted his emphasis on acquisition excellence. She said the Air Force must rebuild and shape the acquisition work force, attract proven engineering and management talent in supervisory roles, and continue to improve processes and skills.

Acquisition reform is not the issue, Ms. Payton said.

General Carlson outlined external challenges within the Air Force environment - rising JP8 fuel costs, Congressional budget pressure, the average age of Air Force aircraft - as well as challenges within the acquisition environment - funding instability, key personnel turnover, protests.

Kicking off the final day of the conference, Lt. Gen. Terry Gabreski, vice commander of AFMC, briefed on the "Future of the Sustainment Enterprise." She outlined some key challenges logisticians must confront as they take on the Chief of Staff's priority to "reinvigorate the Air Force nuclear enterprise." Among other issues and initiatives she also discussed, General Gabreski looked ahead to synchronizing field and depot maintenance and the challenges of increasing aircraft availability to warfighters.

The Logistics Officer Association is an organization that strives to enhance the military logistics profession. The conference provided an open forum to promote quality logistical support and logistics officer professional development.

Ms. Payton began her joint presentation with General Carlson by showing a slide containing a crude drawing of an attack against American and allied forces.

"This drawing is a map taken off of a dead Taliban sub commander who had set up a bloody ambush in Afghanistan against one of our convoys," Ms. Payton said. "What the enemy did not know was that we had received a tip and subsequently had an A-10 fly over the area. Using the advanced targeting pod, the A-10 was able to video enemy ground activity and relay that info so we could stop the convoy and save lives.

"What's the significance of keeping these A-10s and other aircraft flying and equipping them with the latest capabilities?" Ms. Payton asked the crowd. "Every day, you are making a difference in prosecuting this war and getting us closer to a point where we can stand down as Iraq and Afghanistan start to stand back up again."

Among the urgent warfighter needs are LITENING and SNIPER pods -- an operational precision targeting pod system used with a wide variety of combat aircraft - in conjunction with a rover receiver. The objective is for video viewed by a pilot to be immediately, real-time down-linked to a ground station in the form of a laptop computer held by the joint terminal attack controllers. This capability gives troops greater situational awareness.

Another urgent need is a laser Joint Direct Attack Munition. JDAM is a tail kit that turns an unguided dumb bomb, already in the warfighter's arsenal, into an accurate smart munition. Guidance via laser and the global positioning system would allow the munition to engage and destroy moving targets.

General Carlson said an A-10 re-wing effort is one major sustainment initiative under way.

"The problem involves thin wings that are beyond economic repair limits," General Carlson said. "The solution is to replace 242 wings at a cost of $1.1 billion through fiscal 2016." [...]


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