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Rapid Improvement Event targets transportation efficiency, effectiveness

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Force leaders continue to shape wartime work processes by applying AFSO21's Lean principles and techniques.

Functional-area experts representing the majority of the combatant commanders, both functional and geographic, as well as the Joint Staff met here Jan. 8-12 to look at improving overall transportation into critical theaters.

"What we did was a Rapid Improvement Event - the second we have done in the area of distribution and deployment," said Mike Aimone, Air Force assistant deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support. "Our focus under the Lean initiatives of AFSO21 is to look at ways we can improve the processes associated with the overall Air Force deployment and distribution system."

Mr. Aimone received a briefing Jan. 12 on the RIE findings and recommendations.

"The focus of today was to look at where there is waste in the process of moving material and people from their locations within the United States and around the world, where they are in garrison to meet the war-fighting requirements," said Mr. Aimone.

"So, it wasn't just about airplanes," he continued. "It was about having a distribution system that has velocity and precision to ensure the maximum warfighting capability is provided to warfighters when needed."

Mr. Aimone said key personnel began to identify potential improvement areas last summer, which led to a detailed examination of how people and materials move for deployment through the Joint Operation Planning and Execution System. He said improvement opportunities exist in the areas of training, communication, flexibility and policy.

"What we hope to accomplish is a better understanding at the strategic level of areas we can improve as the Air Force participates in the deployment and distribution process," said Brig. Gen. Robert McMahon, AMC director of logistics. "We brought together experts from the combatant commanders -- both the supported commanders and the supporting commanders -- as well as from throughout the Air Force, who can help identify not only where the challenges are, but also where there is waste in the processes, so we can improve the way we do business."

General McMahon said he foresees improved support for TRANSCOM, and those improvements eventually lead to better support for the other COCOMs.

"We'll see some improvements near-term due to the initial efforts," the general said.

"More importantly, we'll ultimately see more (long-term) efficiency and effectiveness."

Mr. Aimone echoed General McMahon's optimism.

"From what I saw in the room today, there were a good two dozen sub-initiatives we're going to take on to improve the processes, to increase the velocity and accuracy of the flow of material and personnel to meet the war-fighters' needs," said Mr. Aimone.

Mr. Aimone said an action plan is forthcoming soon from the RIE. As he plans to brief Air Force senior leaders on the outcome in February, he said Air Force leadership will appreciate the effort and support provided by all the participating agencies.

"This must be viewed as a joint initiative in that the transportation system, the distribution system and the deployment system that we operate in the United States military is in fact a joint system," said Mr. Aimone. "I'm very pleased to see we had the strong support of both the (combatant commanders) as well as from the subject matter experts of the Air and Space Expeditionary Force Center to help us work our way through this."