AFLCMC commander highlights center progress

BEDFORD, Mass. — Emphasizing the overarching criticality of the work the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center performs, its commander, Lt. Gen. John Thompson, delivered his initial State of the Center address here Jan. 15.

Thompson emphasized the progress made over the course of the year, highlighted AFLCMC and Hanscom successes and presented his focus areas for 2015.

Homing in on the significance of the center, the general was quick to point out that AFLCMC personnel make up approximately 4 percent of the Air Force, but help to deliver 100 percent of the service’s non-space warfighting capabilities.

“We provide all the materiel solutions, except for satellites, that our Airmen need around the world every day,” said Thompson. However, the Air Force “counts on our partners in industry to help accomplish this mission.”

Reflecting on the center’s progress, the general noted that AFLCMC is making great strides in the area of strategic resource management. In simple terms, it’s the ability to quickly react to incoming and changing workloads. This form of management centers on applying resources — whether it be in the form of personnel, funding or equipment — in a more agile manner.

“We cannot continue to do business as usual,” said Thompson, referencing the need to meet mission requirements.

Following the discussion on resource management, and while sticking to the topic of progress, the general also brought up the importance of standardization — the lack of which is often a source of frustration for program managers, customers and industry partners alike.

Thompson was clear that more efficient processes are needed across the life cycle mission area.

“There are a whole bunch of processes that we all do,” the commander said.

His observation is that it’s unfair to expect program managers to change the way they do business based on where they are located or what base they operate from. Standardization would also help alleviate the pain felt by industry partners when dealing with the same program managers who are forced to conduct business in a different manner.

Also relating to the center’s progress, the general briefly touched on the Air Force’s new inspection system.

Under the new system, there are three levels of evaluation for AFLCMC: a self-assessment performed by each of the AFLCMC units (including the Program Executive Officer organizations), an internal inspection by the center’s inspection team and an external inspection by Air Force Materiel Command.

According to Thompson, the major graded areas of the new system are well aligned with AFLCMC strategic goals.

However, the address wasn’t merely a progress report for those in attendance. The commander made a point to applaud several of Hanscom’s successes.

Within the C3I and Networks Directorate, special attention was given to the Battlefield Airborne Communications Node program, also known by its tastier name, BACN.

The node translates and distributes imagery, video and data from E-11As or Global Hawks. The current seven aircraft fleet operates at a 98 percent mission availability, spanning three areas of responsibility. In addition, the system recently surpassed 75,000 combat flight hours and 6,600 missions.

Recognition was also given to Battle Management’s newest division, the JSTARS Recapitalization program. The recap is the Air Force Chief of Staff’s No. 4 acquisition priority.

“This program is really postured for success,” Thompson said.

In addition to the two directorates, Thompson also praised the efforts of the 66th Air Base Group, which serves as home to both units.

The group was successful in partnering with a state task force, which among many other things, resulted in a $2.9 million gift to the Air Force to make electrical and communication system improvements to a critical facility that will enable future collaboration.

The general closed with a final point of emphasis.

“If we stop growing, then we stagnate … and we can’t do that,” the commander said. “I’m not going to let that happen.”

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