Acquisition wings to become directorates with clear lines of authority

WASHINGTON — Air Force officials will implement a new organizational construct for weapon systems acquisition that includes designating directorates, divisions and branches in place of some current wings, groups and squadrons.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz announced the changes in a service-wide memo Sept. 3. The memo, signed by both leaders, makes clear that realigning organizations under a directorate/division/branch structure is driven by one of five goals from the Acquisition Improvement Plan the secretary and chief announced in May.

The impact of realignment primarily will affect Air Force Materiel Command organizations. The targeted implementation date for AFMC is June 30, 2010. One Air Force Space Command organization, the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., also is included in the wing-to-directorate realignment. The target implementation date there is Oct. 1, 2010.

Gen. Donald Hoffman, AFMC commander, said this change will involve a total command-wide effort, but it will generate several benefits.

The realignment is not a simple return to organizational designations AFMC officials once used before they adopted the wing structure, AFMC planners say. The goal that underlies the realignment is to establish clear lines of authority and accountability within acquisition organizations, according to the secretary's and chief's memo.

Along with changing from wings to directorates, Air Force officials also will create several new positions at the program executive officer level to decrease PEO span of control. A greater number of PEOs is needed to oversee execution of major acquisition programs, AFMC planners say. New PEO positions will be created at the directorate level and will be filled by both military and civilian people.

Additionally, AFMC officials will institute matrix-management in acquisition organizations. Matrix management brings together, under a single leader, people who report to different functional home offices to complete a particular program or project.

"This restructure embraces the differences between the acquisition and operational missions in the Air Force," according to the memo.

While realignment primarily will affect the three product centers in AFMC and the one in AFSPC, all of AFMC's centers will see some changes. AFMC planners say the realignment is "manpower neutral," meaning no net gain or loss of jobs will occur.

AFMC and AFSPC planners don't have answers yet to every question that civilian and military members of the acquisition corps may have about potential personal impacts, but they said they will keep the information flowing as the change process plays out.

The restructuring from wings to directorates also follows an Air Force senior leader decision to standardize the size of wings, groups and squadrons across the Air Force. Wings now must have 1,000 or more members; groups, 400; and squadrons, 35.

"Most of our acquisition units were not large enough to maintain the appropriate wing, group and squadron designations," Hoffman said. "Combining units to meet the size thresholds would have been major surgery and would have buried senior acquisition leadership at the squadron level or below."

Air Force Acquisition centers that will be restructured to directorates, divisions and branches are:

  • Air Armament Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., excluding the 46th Test Wing
  • Aeronautical Systems Center, Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio
  • Electronics Systems Center, Hanscom AFB, Mass.
  • Arnold Engineering and Development Center, Arnold AFB, Tenn.
  • Air Force Security Assistance Center, Wright Patterson AFB, and
  • Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles AFB, Calif.

At the air logistics centers and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, the Aircraft (Aerospace) Sustainment wings and Nuclear Systems Wing respectively, will retain their designation but subordinate groups and squadrons will convert to divisions and branches. Some aircraft sustainment wings and combat sustainment wings will consolidate their missions and be renamed aerospace sustainment wings.

The air logistics centers, which are large industrial facilities responsible for maintenance and sustainment of aircraft and other systems, are located at Hill AFB, Robins AFB, Ga.; and Tinker AFB, Okla.

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