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General Carlson: 'Hill doing great'

Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, talks to Don Cazel, Ogden Air Logistics Center deputy director, about Hill Air Force Base's Voluntary Protection Program. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, talks to Don Cazel, Ogden Air Logistics Center deputy director, about Hill Air Force Base's Voluntary Protection Program. (Air Force photo by Alex R. Lloyd)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, visited Hill Air Force Base Aug. 30 to learn more about how the base is handling his three primary focus areas: people, mission, and continuous process improvement. 

"Hill is doing great," General Carlson said. "While I was on my tour, I saw a number of initiatives that were remarkable in the size and scope of their accomplishments. The (air logistics centers) are leading not just AFMC in AFSO21 initiatives, but the Air Force."

He said one improvement he was impressed with was how the 309th Maintenance Wing has cut hours needed to upgrade the A-10 Thunderbolt II, while adding more electronics than originally called for.

"I marveled at how the team has gone from about 5,500 hours to install a precision engagement modification on the A-10 to being below the goal we set for them in about 15 months," the general said. "And now they are adding more into the kit than what we had originally agreed to. Not only are they adding the precision engagement kit, but they are adding a data link to that now, and they are still doing that under the target we have given them."

He said he has seen hard work like that all over the base and that he was pleased to be able to come to Hill AFB to see that kind of effort.

One of the ways AFMC is trying to make improvements for Hill AFB as well as the rest of the command, and, eventually, the Air Force, is through a program called centralized asset management.

"Centralized asset management gets rid of a whole bunch of non-value added transactions," General Carlson said. "That means if a captain sells something to a colonel who sells it to a lieutenant colonel who sells it back to the captain, everyone is occupied, but it doesn't add any value to the product. We used to do that a lot inside our working capital fund and inside our logistics centers."

In the future, this program will allow large amounts of money to flex between different weapon systems, he said. Right now, all three of the air logistics centers are good at flexing money between one section of a weapon system to another section.

"What we can't do as an Air Force is quickly flex money where it needs to be," General Carlson said. For instance, if American combatants move into a phase of the war effort in which airlift at the moment is more critical than fighter support, necessary funding can be shifted quickly in a major way. "CAM will give us the mechanism to do that."

General Carlson said his biggest priority is people, and part of that emphasis is keeping people safe.

"The Air Force only has one asset that gets more valuable as time goes on; its people," the general said.

In order to keep its people safe, the Air Force has begun to sign Voluntary Protection Program agreements with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"VPP is an opportunity for workers, regardless of their grade level, to be empowered to improve their work site so they can be more efficient, more safe, and can work in an environment that's much more enjoyable to be in," General Carlson said. "No other program has allowed us to do that."

He said this program doesn't put leadership in a position to decide what's safe, it puts the workers in that position because they are the ones who are doing the manual labor and have the potential to be injured. The goal in the future is that the program will change the way people think and make everyone more safety conscious.

Overall, General Carlson said he was impressed with Hill AFB and its efforts to embrace the "One Materiel Command" concept, as he was with the other two ALCs -- Oklahoma City ALC at Tinker AFB, Okla., and Warner-Robins ALC, Robins AFB, Ga.

"The people at Hill, starting with the senior leadership, are looking outside the gate and embracing the product centers and other logistics centers to make sure we have standardized processes and the instruments in place to optimize the work load," General Carlson said. "Because of this and many other reasons, the center here is engaged in a big way in the idea of the One Materiel Command."