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AFMC commander tours AOR
Gen. Donald Hoffman (right), Air Force Materiel Command commander, examines two aircraft brakes while Senior Airman Stephen Baumgart, 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, explains his mission at a location in Southwest Asia last month. General Hoffman, along with other AFMC senior leaders, visited as part of a trip through the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility to acquire feedback directly from the warfighter about the test and sustainment support the command is contributing to the fight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Kasey Zickmund)
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War trip heightens AFMC commander's resolve

Posted 3/9/2010   Updated 3/9/2010 Email story   Print story


by Robert Ely
Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs

3/9/2010 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio  -- The commander of Air Force Materiel Command returned recently from a trip to Iraq and other sites in the region with an amped-up sense of responsibility to deployed Airmen who depend on his command for the supplies, parts and maintenance to get their jobs done.

General Donald Hoffman had a simple message for the AFMC work force, which he shared first with his senior staff. If there's something in AFMC that someone is waiting for, he said, it better not be sitting in somebody's inbox waiting for action.

He reiterated that message at the HQ AFMC annual awards breakfast attended by approximately 350 people. During an interview, he elaborated on what he observed during the trip that led him to stress heightened responsiveness.

"AFMC support is well received and appreciated," he said, "but the people there are on the far end of the supply and distribution route, and so their needs are amplified by distance and time."

Adding to General Hoffman's commitment to deliver materiel when or before it's needed, were both the people in uniform and deployed civilians. He said more civilians can be used in deployed locations, especially those with contracting expertise.

"Every stop we made, the base operating support people were fired up," he said. "They clearly can see the impact they're having on the mission. All of us on the team were proud to see motivated Americans enduring risk and sacrifice in supporting our nation's objectives."

The AFMC director of logistics and the commanders of AFMC's three air logistics centers accompanied the general on the trip, which included visits to four sites in the U.S. Central Command's Area of Responsibility. All of the team members identified issues they want to work, General Hoffman said.

The general returned from the trip with taskings for his AFMC team.

For example, at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, General Hoffman learned that Airmen could not count on the gear in their chemical-protection bags to have enough remaining service life to match their deployment timing.

"Many items have a shelf life and a service life. If we send items that will expire soon, we are putting a burden on the other end to sort them, ship expired items back, and so forth. We don't need three transportation legs to accomplish what one should do. If there's a burden to be had, AFMC should bear that burden," he said.

Also at Manas, he observed delivery of scores of M-ATVs, or Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicles. Components for the vehicle, such as the gun turret, are shipped singly on pallets, then assembled and installed on the vehicle at the forward operating bases.

"Why not double stack the accessories and save one pallet space for every two M-ATVs" General Hoffman asked. "Within this command, we have a Global Logistics Support Center unit right here at Wright-Patterson, which has packaging and shipment experts who look at things like that," he said.

A third example of the taskings General Hoffman will track is the opportunity to allow options for de-icing fluid used on aircraft in frigid environments.

"They go through a lot of it," he said. "It often comes in by air in drums all the way from the United States. That's a huge air expense. But a second type of de-icer is available regionally. It has different properties but could be used if allowed by aircraft maintenance technical orders; so we need to look at that, and see if it is an acceptable engineering solution which would save us a lot in transportation costs."

The general's team also made stops in Belgium and Greece where the Air Force has contracted for maintenance or upgrades to Air Force aircraft. A stop in Israel afforded a meeting with General Hoffman's counterpart in the Israeli Air Force. The focus of the trip, however, was on identifying opportunities to do things better.

"People could ask why do four stars go traipsing around the theater," General Hoffman said. "People are fighting a war there and they don't need to be running a visitors bureau. So there must be a good reason why we go there."

There is, said the general, adding that his intention is not be to be a four-star action officer for every issue.

"We always find something that leads somebody on the team to say, 'Holy cow, why can't we do business better?' I like to bring those things back as examples of how we can be thinking as a command, and be more responsive to our deployed warfighters," he said.

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