U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., announced that the Senate Depot Caucus and the Air Force have reached agreement on the terms of the recently announced Air Force Materiel Command reorganization. The reorganization was announced by the Air Force in early November, but Chambliss and other members of caucus have been working behind the scenes to ensure that the reorganization did no harm to the Air Force's ability to sustain weapon systems.
"I applaud the Air Force for making some commonsense changes and accommodations with respect to their planned reorganization," said Chambliss, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Depot Caucus. "We had some difficult negotiations, but I think we are at a better place now than when we started, and I believe we allowed the Air Force to achieve the budget savings it needs while protecting its ability to sustain weapon systems."
"I commend the Air Force for its cooperation and for carefully considering our concerns regarding the Air Force Materiel Command reorganization, especially at a time when it is faced with difficult decisions amid budget cuts," said Isakson. "I also thank the local community in Warner Robins for providing their valuable input and helpful guidance on this issue."
Of particular importance was retaining the ability at the Air Logistics Centers to provide horizontal integration of all depot-maintenance and related functions, which will be achieved by creating an Aerospace Sustainment Directorate at each Air Logistics Center. The directorates will be responsible for integrating all sustainment-related functions, and charges the air logistics complex commander with overall horizontal integration at each location. Additionally, and in order to allow the complex commander to focus on this horizontal integration, he will have a deputy charged with day-to-day management of the maintenance wing. All of these changes were made at the urging of the Depot Caucus and are supported by the Air Force.
As part of this reorganization, the Air Logistics Centers will be renamed "Air Logistics Complexes" and have one-star commanders instead of the present two-star commanders. The three Air Logistics Complexes will report to the Air Force Sustainment Center, which will be commanded by a three-star general. This will put a three-star general in charge of Air Force sustainment responsibilities for the first time and will help give sustainment issues a greater voice within the Air Force.
A key issue was to whom program management personnel at the Air Logistics Complexes should report. Chambliss offered an amendment as part of deliberations on the fiscal year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act on this issue. The amendment, which was adopted, requires a non-Department of Defense entity to conduct a study on how this reporting should be carried out to best support Air Force readiness and sustainment.
The reorganization of Air Force Materiel Command is focused on standardizing processes, streamlining decisionmaking and aligning missions throughout the command. It will allow the command -- the Air Force's largest employer of civilians -- to reduce some 1,000 overhead positions, consistent with fiscal year 2012 budget levels. The reorganization includes the creation of two new organizations with three-star commanders, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and the Air Force Sustainment Center.
As part of this agreement, the Air Force has committed to continuing the transfer of program management responsibility to the Air Logistics Complexes for weapon systems that are in the sustainment phase. This will allow program management responsibility to be co-located with the individuals responsible for maintaining those weapon systems, which will provide synergy and efficiency in the sustainment process. The Air Force has also agreed to provide annual reports to the Depot Caucus for the next five years to ensure that the reorganization meets Air Force expectations in terms of improving life-cycle management, depot operations and supply chain management.
"I applaud Sec. Donley and his staff for their hard work and willingness to work with us on this reorganization, and I look forward to working with them in the future as we seek to achieve our common goal of providing the most ready and well-maintained air and space systems in a timely manner to the world's greatest air and space force," said Chambliss.