WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
The Air Force Materiel Command leadership team held a virtual Power Hour all-call, August 25.
The event was an opportunity for the leadership team, including newcomers Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, AFMC Commander, and Lorna B. Estep, AFMC Executive Director, to discuss their perspectives on the command and the future while also answering questions from across the enterprise. Chief Master Sgt. David A. Flosi, AFMC Command Chief, also participated on the panel.
“It never ceases to amaze me the great work this MAJCOM [Major Command] does across all six of the centers. It is encouraging to see the enthusiasm and passion for the mission within the AFMC workforce. I'm also seeing the same thing when I interact with the MAJCOM commanders. I see a lot of respect for what AFMC brings to the fight,” said Richardson during opening remarks.
Richardson started the event with an overview of the forthcoming AFMC Strategic Plan, outlining his focus and priorities. The developing plan will hone in on delivery of integrated capabilities, revolutionizing processes, strengthening the team and enabling a warfighting culture. The most important factor in the plan is the AFMC workforce.
“We’ve got a really strong team right now. They really are the foundation. We want to make sure everybody on our team has the ability to self-actualize,” said Richardson. “What we've got to learn to do is make sure that we can connect every job to that [the mission]. Most of us only have one small sliver of what needs to get done; what's cool is if you integrate all that together, you have it all.”
Richardson went on to explain the role digital will play in the execution of the plan and its importance to the future success of the enterprise. His overall message to Airmen is to, “Think big, start small, scale fast,” in order to ensure the Air Force can stay ahead in the current competitive space.
“What our centers do will continue to be done, but how we do this is going to change. We now have tools that can enable teams in different areas to collaborate, test and make changes virtually,” said Richardson. “This gives us the ability to design things much faster. We continue to work at figuring out how to get these things funded and to teach our workforce.”
The discussion transitioned into the topic of COVID and ongoing policy and guidance changes. Richardson restated the importance of individuals remaining informed and aware of changes to guidance from the Centers for Disease control, and that the leadership team continues to monitor and implement the guidelines provided by the Air Force and Department of Defense.
“National level policy and guidance changes so frequently in this area. I want to make sure the team knows that we are continuing to stay current as best we can,” said Richardson. “Sometimes these policy changes happen at a very high level, and it takes a while for them to flow through to the Air Force. We're doing our best to keep up. Local commanders on the field are always going to know best the situation in their areas, so we’re going to continue to lean on them as we implement the policies.”
Following the COVID discussion, leaders addressed questions from the field regarding the status of improvements to command hiring processes. Estep discussed some recent changes already in place and stated that efforts continue to seek ways to improve timelines across the enterprise.
“Our hiring timelines are down across the command, but we are still not where we want to be as an Air Force. We are using things such as direct hire authority and panels to help in diversity and in ensuring we hire based on merit principles. It is something that continues to be measured and monitored, and we continue to look ways to improve,” she said.
The leaders also took time to address telework and ongoing efforts to determine the way forward as post-COVID reintegration begins across the Nation. Richardson commended command-wide efforts to carry-on the mission during COVID and mass telework, and he stated that the Air Force continues to examine lessons-learned as it develops the workforce plan for the future.
“We're not going to be at the level that we were pre-pandemic where we didn't use the tool much, but we're also probably not going to be at the level where we have been using it [telework] heavily out of necessity. We're going to settle somewhere in the middle,” said Richardson. “We are looking at some sort of a hybrid solution where there's going to be some work that can be done through telework means, and other work that's going to have to be done face-to-face in order to get where our Command is going to need to be able to solve some of our toughest problems.”
Other personnel-related topics touched upon during the event included diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; enlisted promotion system changes; ongoing AFMC We Need efforts; and affordable housing. Richardson reiterated his ongoing support for DEIA and AFMC We Need efforts, and he said that while progress has been made, the command still has improvements to make in both areas.
On housing, Flosi explained that AFMC and Air Force leaders are actively aware of and working to address the challenges facing Airmen and families everywhere.
“Leadership at all department of the Air Force levels are engaged in addressing the housing issues institutionally. Unfortunately, the Department can’t react as fast as the economy changes,” said Flosi. “So, while we're working to do things like out-of-cycle assessments to get our housing allowance rates adjusted to account for changes in the economy, we also have programs like Military OneSource and the Military Family Readiness Center, and they are connected to some aid organizations that can help our Airmen.”
The event concluded with a discussion on AFMC warfighting culture and its importance to the success of the mission and the Air Force. Richardson stated his continued pride in the organization and the importance of collaboration to the future.
“The work that we do is so complex. We need to work together to do what we need to do,” said Richardson. “I am proud of the AFMC patch. You should swell with pride when you say you work for the Air Force, especially AFMC. The Air Force doesn’t run without us.”
The full recording of the AFMC Power Hour is available to internal audiences at AFMC Power Hour Aug 2022.mp4.