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Supply chain command and control. (Supply Support: Air Force Spares Campaign).

Over the years, the critical need for improving the supply chain command and control (SC C2) process for weapon system spares supportability has become more and more apparent. While many improvements have occurred as a result of lessons learned in the Gulf War, Somalia, Kosovo, and other contingencies, no one has used an integrated approach that specifically linked all elements of the spares supply chain. The Air Force Spares Campaign identified three initiatives aimed at providing that linkage to form the SC C2 process for spares. This article addresses the three SC C2 initiatives:

* Establish a virtual inventory control point (VICP)

* Align supply chain management focus

* Standardize use of and expand role of the regional supply squadrons (RSS)

Supply chain C2 is important to the spares world. It is achieved when a designated authority is provided the resources, responsibility, and accountability to manage and direct all spares supply chain activity required to achieve assigned weapon systems availability (WSA) goals. No single organization controls the process from the base level through the transportation system to the air logistics centers (ALC), and this effort does not establish one. It attempts to more closely tie together the efforts of all these elements so spares support to the warfighter can be improved. Several new enablers will help make this happen.

First is development of a new supply chain common operating picture (SC COP) tool to provide everyone the same picture of worldwide requirements and the asset posture available to meet those requirements. Second is establishment of VICP to provide better buy-and-repair budget guidance and execution tracking by weapon system. Third, the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) is establishing a new weapon system supply chain manager (WS SCM), for most weapon systems, with responsibility for orchestrating the efforts of all members of the supply chain to meet WSA targets from a spares perspective. Fourth, six new regional supply squadrons will be established to provide standard supply support for operational units across the Air Force. Fifth is designation of five lead command regional supply squadrons (LCRSS) to serve as a single voice for operational units on distribution of selected critical spares. Finally, new operating rules, roles, and responsibilities have been established for each of these key players to help make the supply chain run more smoothly.

Figure 1 is a graphical representation of the SC C2 framework. The new elements described have established a new structure or framework for a formal spares SC C2 process. Phase I of the process began 1 October 2002 with the issuance of weapon system-specific buy lists for the F-15, F-16, and KC-135 and establishment of the LCRSS for the F-15 and F-16 at the Air Combat Command (ACC) RSS and the LCRSS for the KC-135 at the Air Mobility Command (AMC) RSS. Further, incremental capabilities, including standup of the WS SCMs and fielding of several VICP tools, will occur over the next several months with all elements expected to be in place by April 2003. Current plans call for a phased introduction of additional weapon systems starting in October 2003, with integration of most weapon systems by July 2004. The overall success of this process will be determined by the collective efforts of everyone, using the new tools and exercising their respective new rules and responsibilities.

Virtual Inventory Control Point

VICP is a combination of centralized processes, systems, and business rules that focus on achieving optimum weapon systems availability through spares support based on available funding. VICP is not an organizational structure; associated processes, systems, and business rules will continue to be managed by the AFMC Logistics Directorate. What has changed, however, is that VICP will focus these efforts on:

* Projecting unconstrained and constrained spare parts requirements for the program objective memorandum (POM) and budget inputs,

* Allocating and reallocating buy-and-repair cost authority to achieve desired availability targets for specific weapon systems,

* Tracking the execution of cost authority to the plan and maintaining the effects on weapon systems availability, and

* Providing a data environment that facilitates distribution and redistribution decisions.

VICP is designed to correct gaps in the processes used to improve weapon systems availability. In today's environment, focus is on the weapon system only when determining an unconstrained buy requirement to achieve aircraft availability targets. The process begins to deteriorate during execution if the cost authority for buy-and-repair actions does not meet the unconstrained requirement level. The Air Force does not have a method to allocate constrained cost authority across weapon systems and identify the reduction in availability that will occur because of the reduced funding. Finally, there is no feedback loop to measure how cost authority was actually executed by weapon system and the resulting decline in availability that could be expected. As a result, it is extremely difficult for leaders to make decisions on where to focus logistics support resources.

The goal of VICP is to correct the deficiencies in the process by establishing business rules, enhancing current systems, and developing the tools to identify constraints and provide feedback to measure the effectiveness of the centrally developed plans to meet WSA targets.

This goal is being met hrough focused improvement efforts in the following core processes:

* Weapon system prioritization

* Computing the full fequirement

* Allocating and reallocating limited cost authority

* Centralized buy

* Centralized repair

* Distribution and redistribution

* Weapon system prioritization

As noted earlier, allocating cost authority to achieve WSA targets would not be a problem if all requirements were funded. However, when funding is constrained, decisions must be made to ensure that logistics support and associated funding are focused on Air Force operational priorities. This tradeoff decisionmaking process begins with the operations community's developing a weapon system prioritization scheme. Air Staff logisticians will apply this prioritization scheme through a PC-based tool that allocates funds and identifies the impact of these allocations. They will also have the capability to run various allocation scenarios to identify the optimum mix of funding to various weapon systems to achieve operational requirements. Alternatively, if weapon systems have equal priority, the tool can effectively allocate cost authority to allow each weapon system to attain a defined percentage of its targets.

Computing the Full Requirement

Another aspect of VICP involves ensuring the full requirement is computed. It is extremely important that VICP support development of the total unconstrained spare parts requirement to support the peacetime and wartime missions for Air Force-managed items. In years past, a number of elements (repair cycle times and order and ship times) used to compute buy-and-repair requirements were constrained to keep the overall requirement at a level commensurate with anticipated funding. This, of course, masked the real requirement. The objective of the VICP is to identify the real requirement needed to support the warfighter and then make adjustments based on the level of funding received. In this way, the full requirement to support established availability targets is known, as is the constrained requirement and achievable targets. As a result fact-based decisions can be made on where to spend Air Force funds.

VICP, in concert with the Spares Requirements Review Board (another Spares Campaign initiative), will generate POM inputs based on aggregate estimated requirements by weapon system. For budget inputs and actual execution, requirements will be determined at the item level and rolled up to a weapon system requirement.

Once the requirements have gone through the corporate POM and budget process, a level of cost authority will be provided to the VICP from the Air Staff. If sufficient cost authority is not available to execute the full buy-and-repair requirement, VICP will determine how to allocate the limited cost authority to best meet Air Force weapon system prioritization and guidance issued by the Air Staff. This guidance could provide full funding to some weapon systems at the expense of other weapon systems with a lower operational need, or the shortfall could be shared equally across weapon systems.

Allocating and Reallocating Limited Cost Authority

VICP will also determine the most efficient allocation based on visibility of the entire weapon system requirement across all the air logistics centers instead of the single-ALC perspective used today. A funds allocation tool, using an operational priority matrix, will allocate (or when necessary reallocate) cost authority to prioritize weapon systems against various support-level targets. Once it is determined how much cost authority will be allocated to each weapon system for buy and repair, VICP will develop an execution plan for buy-and-repair actions needed to achieve funded targets. Cost authority will then be allocated through the air logistics centers to the commodity supply chain managers who perform the actual initiation of buy-and-repair actions. In addition, VICP will provide funds reallocation guidance whenever there is a significant change in the requirement (increased condemnations, technical surprises, increased usage because of contingencies), the capability to execute, or available funding. Finally, it will allocate execution-year cost authority to the air logistics centers by weapon system. Of note, the AFMC Logistics Directorate will be the VICP approval authority for reallocation of cost authority based on WS SCM evaluation. The weapon system priority matrix will be used to guide the allocation (and reallocation) of funds when full funding is not available.

Centralized Buy

The buy execution plan developed by VICP will reflect funded requirements for both common and weapon system peculiar items. Guidance will be provided to the ALC commodity supply chain manager responsible for execution and the WS SCM for weapon system visibility and management of constraints. This guidance will provide business rules to facilitate management decisions at the air logistics centers and across weapon systems. The combination of centralized guidance and decentralized execution will protect against inconsistent support of individual weapon systems across the air logistics centers.

Centralized Repair

In the case of repair execution, VICP allocation of cost authority will be based on previously computed requirements; however, to maximize effectiveness, repair execution of that cost authority will be done through the Execution and Prioritization of Repair Support System (EXPRESS). EXPRESS recognizes today's need and prioritizes repair based on actual operational requirements at that given time and will be a valuable tool within VICP. There will, however, be a change to the way EXPRESS prioritizes workload. Today, each air logistics center prioritizes internal repair activity, using the EXPRESS Prioritization Module. Although this prioritizes repair by weapon system within the air logistics center, it cannot determine the impact of repair to the weapon system fleet because it does not consider the repairs being done at other air logistics centers or at contractor repair locations. VICP weapon system focus will change this. By 30 January 2003, the Prioritization Module of EXPRESS will centrally compute a list that will prioritize repair for weapon systems across air logistics centers.

The EXPRESS Supportability Module will continue to be processed in a decentralized mode at each air logistics center, where they will identify repair constraints. Today, these constraints are not prioritized with a view to their impact on weapon systems availability. After EXPRESS is centralized, the Air Force will be able to prioritize constrained assets and see their impact to the weapon system lead time away. It will also be able to determine the urgency of mitigating the constraint and identifying the impact if it is not mitigated.

Finally, not all items are prioritized by EXPRESS. In fact, none of the contract or other service repair is prioritized or managed within EXPRESS. A long-range goal is to include these categories of items in EXPRESS.

Distribution and Redistribution

Distribution is the shipment of assets from the ALC storage location to the customer to satisfy the customer's outstanding requisition. Redistribution is the shipment from a base (retail account) to a customer to satisfy the customer's requirement. This includes lateral support (the filling of high-priority requirements at one base with assets from another base) and the reallocation of stocks (the movement of shelf stock from one base to another to improve Air Force mission support).

The decision logic in the VICP data environment will provide an asset on receipt of a requisition, identify the source for the asset, and provide status to the customer immediately. Thus, the VICP data environment will identify, based on Air Force-approved business rules, whether to ship from depot stock, base excess stock, or nonexcess base stock or wait for repair. This will eliminate the need for bases to use lateral support procedures for Air Force-managed items. The VICP data environment will identify what item to distribute or redistribute (both the shipping and ship-to bases) based on weapon systems availability. Hence, items will be distributed from bases with the least mission impact rather than base where the first asset was found (as is the case with the current lateral support system).

The VICP data environment will have to provide what if reallocation analysis and direct reallocation actions for existing stock. The reallocation process will identify the impact on weapon systems availability of moving shelf stock from bases with lower needs to bases with greater needs. The lead command and major command (MAJCOM) regional supply squadrons can use this capability to improve fleet and supply support to high-priority contingency needs.

Feedback Tools

For all the processes to come together, the ability to compare actual execution to the plan is absolutely key to identifying constraints for timely resolution and adjusting future budget projects. VICP will compare actual buy-and-repair execution to the planned (VICP guidance) buy and repair. It is important to allow some execution flexibility to accommodate the dynamics in spare parts usage and in mission priorities. Nonetheless, the execution tracking system will provide valuable feedback to determine the accuracy of the VICP forecast, ability of the WS SCM and the air logistics centers to execute to achieve the WSA targets, and constraints affecting the execution guidance.

Specifically, VICP will track the execution of the buy lists to analyze the accuracy of the computed requirement compared to execution. This analysis will help refine the requirements determination process.

For the repair process, VICP will provide an EXPRESS skip over tool for the WS SCM to properly gauge the effectiveness of repair activities. If high-priority items are not being inducted, WSA targets cannot be achieved, and the WS SCM must take corrective actions to ensure the right things are being repaired. WS SCMs will be responsible for ensuring constraint mitigation plans are developed for constraints that adversely impact achieving the WSA target.

The last piece of the puzzle is the future vision of the VICP data environment. The vision provides for centralized guidance to retail repair sources and establishes business rules to allow for automatic distribution and redistribution of Air Force-managed items. For retail repair sources, notices will be sent to retail systems when repair actions are unnecessary because an asset is excess to both base and worldwide needs. VICP data systems will also prioritize and provide redistribution actions for repair of assets at one base to satisfy needs at other bases. The VICP repair execution system will also consider repairs made at centralized intermediate repair facilities when prioritizing depot-level repair and distribution requirements.

In a nutshell, VICP is not an organizational structure but is a combination of processes, systems, and business rules that require a collaborative effort to maintain weapon system focus, the key element of supply chain command and control. VICP will execute Air Force policy generated by many Air Staff offices. This includes financial, logistical, and operational policies. Execution of this policy will produce unconstrained requirements for POM and budget submissions, as well as the capability to execute constrained budgets to meet operational priorities. Centralized buy lists and priority repair lists will be produced based on the weapon system target, which will be sent to the air logistics centers for decentralized execution. Feedback to VICP allows adjustments to be made to the buy-and-repair requirement and reallocation of cost authority resources. Feedback to the WS SCM will provide insight to the performance of activities that execute the cost authority allocated to the weapon system and will identify m ajor constraints that require mitigation.

Aligning Supply Chain Management Focus

In today's global marketplace, successful enterprises define supply chain management as the integration of key processes and information across the supply chain. One of the more difficult tasks associated with this process centers around identification, understanding, and standardization of those key processes. As noted in the International Journal of Logistics Management:

While many have recognized the benefits of a process approach to managing the business and supply chain, most are vague about what processes are to be considered, what sub-processes and activities are contained in each process, and how the processes interact with each other and with the traditional functional silos. (1)

The following paragraphs address the Spares Campaign's Align Supply Chain Management Focus initiative, describe its objectives, and provide background related to the development of a weapon system supply chain manager. Also discussed is the importance of providing visibility across the supply chain through implementation of a supply chain common operating picture, to include how and when it will be phased into Air Force operations.

Today, supply chain managers at air logistics centers lead organizations that manage groups of specific national stock numbers (NSN). Supply chain managers can manage stock numbers applicable to a single weapon system or common to multiple weapon systems. These managers report to their respective ALC commanders and are responsible for managing the supply, repair, and overall management of these assets. Additionally, they are responsible for analysis of supply chain performance as it relates to their specific group of NSNs. However, looking only at a specific group of NSNs, today's supply chain managers are unable to see how their items impact overall weapon systems availability. The Air Force also requires management of assets at the weapon system level.

In conjunction with AFMC's efforts to improve supply chain manager performance, MAJCOMs have expressed concern that tomorrow's supply chain managers must focus on weapon systems. They must be responsible for fleet-wide supply chain integration for entire weapon systems. Their efforts must be focused on maintaining the highest possible mission capability and weapon systems availability given the resources allocated to that weapon system.

Within this charter, the visibility of information, product, and funds across the entire supply chain becomes a necessary enabler. With the aforementioned issues in mind, the Spares Campaign Integrated Process Team for Align Supply Chain Management Focus identified the need for a new position within the ALC organizational structure, the WS SCM, who would report directly to the system program director or program manager, depending on the assigned weapon system. The WS SCM will have responsibility and authority for analyzing and coordinating the integration of support actions necessary to ensure overall weapon system supply chain effectiveness and oversee the execution of spares buy-and-repair priorities to meet mission capability and WSA goals. Additionally, the WS SCM will coordinate supply chain activities to mitigate constraints in order to optimize mission capability and weapon systems availability given the resources allocated.

To be successful, the WS SCMs must identify and drive the integration of their supply chains, to include supply chain structure, business processes, and supply chain management components. These design efforts include identifying specific supply chain nodes and processes (the key processes that require integration) and where to focus available resources to maximize support to the customer.

While it is important that WS SCMs have visibility over the entire supply chain, it is equally important that the supply chain be mapped in this configuration to optimize collaboration and communication. Once members have been mapped in the supply chain, the WS SCM must identify the key supply chain processes that require integration among the critical members of the supply chain.

The key supply chain processes identified by members of the Global Supply Chain Forum are:

(1) Customer relationship management,

(2) Customer service management,

(3) Demand management,

(4) Order fulfillment,

(5) Manufacturing flow management,

(6) Procurement,

(7) Product development and commercialization, and

(8) Returns. (2)

Within each of these processes, the WS SCMs must build the proper service-level agreements with suppliers and customers. They must manage information flows among the members of their supply chain to allow better demand forecasting, improve asset visibility, and provide the necessary flexibility to meet demand variability. The WS SCM's objective is maximizing support for the weapon system supply chain that ultimately supports the warfighter.

Initial operating capability for WS SCMs is scheduled for early fiscal year (FY) 2003. Initially, WS SCMs will be assigned to the F-15, F-16, and KC-135. This phased implementation establishes a WS SCM at each air logistics center. During FY03, WS SCMs will monitor improvement to weapon system performance and document lessons learned. Beginning in FY04, the Air Force will phase in the remaining weapon systems incrementally.

Air Force Supply Chain Common Operating Picture

End-to-end spares visibility is a major enabler for successful supply chain management. Providing this enhanced visibility is crucial to successful implementation of the Spares Campaign initiatives. All stakeholders must have access to the same information, provided at the same time, to support integrated, system-oriented decisionmaking. Further, supply chain information systems must employ the latest information technology, ensure full integration of supply chain business processes, and be more user-friendly than current systems. The Air Force solution to supply chain visibility, the SC COP, provides a single tool that uses authoritative data sources to provide needed information for all levels of activity and management across the supply chain. The SC COP will greatly streamline and standardize information management and dissemination to effectively manage spares support for the warfighter.

Today, there are a number of spares management tools, each requiring different user-identification names and passwords. Data integrity (inaccuracies due to erroneous entries and use of secondary sources) and data latency (differences created by secondary systems providing the data at different times) create confusion within the supply chain and limit the analytical capability of decisionmakers. To address and solve these issues, organizations throughout the Air Force are collectively expending resources to develop systems that help manage their workload. This results in the development of duplicative, local, homegrown solutions that focus on segments rather than the entire supply chain. As a result, fielded tools often provide different answers to the same questions.

SC COP development stemmed from the concept that, while a variety of organizations comprise the spares supply chain, data and information requirements across the chain remain largely the same. The SC COP's goal is to provide comprehensive asset visibility, enabling users to manage weapon system spares from a fleet-wide supply chain perspective. Once fully fielded, SC COP should serve as the single source of information to manage the spares supply chain.

Initial operating capability from the SC COP was fielded on 28 March 2002, and users can access it through the Air Force portal. The initial thrust of this effort brought together the functionality of several different AFMC and ALC tools to display one authoritative source of information. Subsequent improvements to SC COP were released as spirals. Spiral Two was fielded on 28 June 2002 and debuted a presentation layer that depicts the spares management supply chain in a process-centric circle. Spiral Three will have the capability to actually see data from throughout the weapon system supply chain. Users will have drill-down capability, allowing easy navigation from fleet-wide metrics to specifics on individual NSNs. Future spirals will add more capability that will eventually meet the goal of visibility of all assets, in all locations, and in all conditions.

Another exciting project currently in the research and development phase is the Air Force supply chain portal. This project harnesses portal technology to create a workspace for supply chain members to perform transactions necessary to accomplish mission objectives. If early design tests are successful, a mechanic at the depot could log on to the SC portal and search real-time inventory positions throughout the Department of Defense and even at participating contractors' facilities. Once asset status is known, an order can be made and, through collaborative messaging processes, real-time status received on where the part was issued and when it can be expected at the mechanic's location. Through this technology, all dependent transactional systems (financial, inventory, and transportation) will be updated at the time of the order processing.

With this charter and the described tools, the WS SCM will serve as a broker, coordinator, and quarterback for the weapon system supply chain, linking supply chain stakeholders in an extended process and coordinating activities that deliver products and services to customers. Through these efforts, the WS SCM will be able to cross organizational boundaries and achieve improved spares support. The development of information technology provides a degree of control not possible when current processes, policies, and organizational structures were designed. As noted in the Handbook of Logistics and Supply Chain Management 2001:

Successful supply chain management requires integrating business processes with key members of the supply chain. Implementing supply chain management requires making the transition from a functional organization to a focus on process, first inside the enterprise and then across the supply chain. By taking a process focus, all functions that touch the product or provide information must work together. Operating an integrated supply chain requires a continuous information flow, which, in turn, helps create the best product flows. (3)

Standardize Use and Expand Role of the Regional Supply Squadron

The third major initiative of the C2 Supply Chain Team is the regional supply squadron--the component that helps bridge the gap between suppliers and operational requirements generated by the warfighter.

The genesis of the regional supply squadrons dates back to the massive buildup of US and coalition forces in support of Operation Desert Shield in 1990, where resupply issues quickly surfaced. The lifeline of the deployed unit was the war readiness spares kit, a deployable spares package that was the forerunner of today's readiness spares package. To replenish the kits, each deployed unit would download its replenishment requirements to a tape and mail it to the home station, where the transactions would be sorted manually and downloaded to the Standard Base Supply System (SBSS). This process added 2 weeks or more in administrative processing for weapon system spares replenishment--unacceptable in a wartime environment.

To address these issues, the Air Force required a centralized activity that could receive, consolidate, and pass requirements from deployed units to sources of supply in a near real-time, automated fashion and act as a single, authoritative focal point with sources of supply. The Air Force realized this vision with the Air Force Contingency Supply Support Activity (AFCSSA), created in 1990 to centralize and streamline the weapon system spares-replenishment process. AFCSSA proved its worth during Operation Desert Storm by reducing order and ship time by 10-14 days and eliminating the inefficiencies and suboptimums caused by multiple units' linking to the home station for core supply support. At the cost of 150 supply people, the centralized supply support concept embodied in the AFCSSA reduced the deployment footprint by 450. Building on the successes of the Gulf War, AFCSSA extended its centralized supply support to operations in the Iraq no-fly zones, Haiti, and Somalia, as well as steady-state Arctic early -warning radar sites.

The Air Force Supply Executive Board took AFCSSA successes a step further and defined the initial concept for regional supply squadrons to provide centralized support for all MAJCOM bases. The centralized supply concept kept the processes associated with physical handling of property and customer and vendor liaison at the base level, while placing the resource management and supply C2 functions in the regional supply squadrons.

In October 1997, the Air Force Director of Supply directed the implementation of this RSS concept in four major commands. By December 1997, ACC had established the first regional supply squadrons in the Air Force, to be followed by AMC, United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), and Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). The results were notable. By centralizing supply C2 functions--such as stock control, weapon system spares support, stock fund management, equipment management, and computer operations--the supply career field could realize a reduction of 570 manpower positions for annual savings of $25M.

In addition to the manpower savings, the four operational regional supply squadrons provided significant improvement in several areas of spares support that enhanced support to the warfighter. For example, the PACAF regional supply squadrons reduced not-mission capable requirements; that is, mission capabilities (MICAP) at Kadena Air Base, Japan, were reduced from 574 to 196, while MICAPs at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska, were reduced from 420 to 224, both within the first 30 days under RSS management. The ACC RSS decreased order and ship time by 65 percent in 1 year, reduced command excess equipment by $3M, and cut total not mission capable for supply (TNMCS) rates for several weapon systems, including a reduction greater than 50 percent for the E-3, B-2, and HH-60. Similarly, the AMC RSS has helped reduce the TNMCS rates steadily for the C-5 for the last 2 years. The AMC RSS has made great strides in improving C-S engine support since regionalizing AMC bases. It reached the war reserve engine (WRE) standard of 65 for the first time in more than 2 years and was a major reason for the command's attaining a WRE level of 87, the highest in 6 years. The AMC RSS has also exercised its role as the lead command for the mobility air force and partnered with Air Education and Training Command's (AETC) Altus AEB, Oklahoma, to reduce its number of average daily MICAPs by nearly 25 percent.

Objectives of the RSS Initiative

Establishment of regional supply squadrons has significantly improved supply support to the warfighter, but as the Spares Campaign C2 Team pointed out in its report in June 2001, the current organizational alignment (six of ten commands without RSS coverage) continues to produce inconsistent results. The team specifically cited the lack of fleet-wide coordination authority to speak for the operational commands on weapon system spares issues, and no one is ensuring that the most urgent fleet requirement is filled first.

As a result, the Spares Campaign undertook an effort--in conjunction with the Air Force Directorate of Logistics Readiness, MAJCOM logistics community, and current regional supply squadrons--to standardize the use and expand the role of regional supply squadrons. This initiative has two primary objectives. The first is to establish RSS coverage in all MAJCOMs, standardizing common supply processes that have proven to be cost-effective and performance-enhancing. All MAJCOMs plan to establish MRSSs to meet this objective. The second is to move distribution decision authority for a few select, intensively managed spares from item managers to an LCRSS. This objective will place distribution authority on the demand side of the equation, with an organization that is closer to operational requirements of the warfighter. Specific LCRSS assignments are indicated in Table 1.

New Emphasis on Fleet-Wide Operational Spares Support

As this article goes to print, the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff, Installations and Logistics has approved modification of the current MRSS concept for spares support for weapon systems based in the continental United States (CONUS). Under this concept, the ACC, AMC, and Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) RSS will be responsible for MICAP, awaiting parts, and reserve-stock point replenishment support for all CONUS-based combat air forces (CAF), mobility air forces (MAF), and special operations forces (SOF) weapon systems, respectively. The AETC RSS and Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) RSS will provide full weapon system support for white jet trainers and space and missile systems, respectively. The AETC, AFMC, Air Force Reserve Command, and Air National Guard RSS operations will provide stock control, equipment management, computer operations, and stock fund management support for their respective commands and will work closely with ACC, AMC, and AFSOC RSSs in support of combat aircraft assigned to their respective commands. This strategy was briefed at the Spares Campaign Summit at Robins AFB, Georgia; Logistics Readiness Conference at Eglin AFB, Florida; and Air Force Materiel Management Board in October 2002. Operating rules, roles, and responsibilities for this revised strategy for weapon system spares C2 will now be developed by the RSS integrated process team and coordinated through the MAJCOMs.

The LCRSSs idetified in Table 1 are core MRSS organizations, with expanded responsibility for fleet-wide weapon system spares analysis and selective item distribution. This LCRSS effort, combined with initiatives to create a VICP and align supply chain management focus, will provide more emphasis on fleet-wide operational spares support for the weapon system and sigificantly improve Air Force spares C2.

As previously mentioned, the LCRSS has two additional roles and responsibilities beyond those assigned to the MRSS. First, the LCRSS serves as the fleet focal point between the various MRSSs and the commodity SCM for the select few items designated as fleet distributed. Fleet-distributed items have significantly more requirements than serviceable assets; frequently have simultaneous multiple, competing demands across commands; and severely impact fleet-wide weapon systems availability. The MRSS, LCRSS, SCM, and WS SCM (or Defense Logistics Agency WSSM) must all agree that selective distribution is warranted. When an item is designated as fleet distributed, the LCRSS makes all distribution decisions in coordination with all impacted MRSSs and the applicable commodity SCM.

Second, the LCRSS will have an analysis activity responsible for monitoring overall spares supportability and identifying items with trends that may indicate supportability problems. As a result of this analysis, the LCRSS will alert the applicable MRSS, WS SCM, and commodity SCM organizations and begin evaluation of actions needed to preclude the item from migrating to the fleet-distributed category.

When analysis indicates, the LCRSS may recommend to the commodity SCM, WS SCM, and MRSS that the item be considered for designation as a fleet-distributed item. The LCRSS also will work with the MRSS to evaluate the overall operational spares posture to determine what additional steps might be taken at the bases to alleviate shortages. This may include changing the repair priority for intermediate-level repair, redistributing backlogged reparables if repair capacity exists at other locations, or other actions as deemed appropriate. All actions will be coordinated with the appropriate MRSS and command maintenance staff.

ACC and AMC RSSs established initial operational capability as the CAF and MAF LCRSSs, respectively, on 1 October 2002. Initial LCRSS operations will provide coverage for the F-15, F-16, and KC-135 aircraft. The other designated LCRSS organizations will be phased in when all necessary organizational actions have taken place.

New Tools Streamline Problem Solving and Analysis

Inherent in the regional supply squadrons' and C2 Supply Chain Team's ability to improve spares C2 support to the warfighter is access to data that show the same view of the total requirement, as well as all assets in all conditions and at all locations. Additional management tools are being made available to help facilitate accomplishment of these activities.

As noted in the section on supply chain management, the Air Force portal will offer access to the Air Force SC COP. This tool will provide supply chain managers at the base, regional supply squadrons, and air logistics centers total visibility of all requirements and assets in all conditions at all locations on a worldwide basis. This will result in more accurate information exchange and feedback between the regional supply squadrons and all supplying organizations. The supply chain common operating picture also will provide links to virtually all other key systems. A number of enhancements are planned for the initial product that will further integrate and improve usability of all activities to include near real-time data availability.

In addition to the SC COP, the RSS Tools Working Group has been consolidating and standardizing a number of MICAP, stock control, and analysis tools for use by the RSS community. To date, the working group has helped facilitate the production of applications benefiting the entire regional supply community, reduced RSS-unique tools, pushed standard tools to the Air Force portal, and developed a standard suite of Web services for the RSS community in support of their customers.

The RSS MICAP, stock control, and analysis tools will provide ad hoc report capability, rollup summaries, drill-down capability, MICAP asset sourcing system boards with expanded history comments, various historical reports, and more than 100 stock control reports and analysis metrics based on standard business rules and metrics in a near real-time environment via an Air Force RSS data mart.

The RSS Standard Toolkit (known as the RSS Dashboard under the SC COP) identifies more than 30 tools for regional supply squadrons in the Air Force portal. The AMC and ACC RSSs and the Standard Systems Group are leading these efforts to allow airmen at the regional supply squadrons use of a single suite of tools to perform all aspects of a job.

The Fleet Analysis Tool Working Group's goal is to develop a fleet-wide analysis tool that will enable users and customers to access data across all supply accounts in the Air Force. The AMC RSS Development Team is building an analysis tool that will be capable of producing reports and graphs, as well as querying data and extracting the data in various formats, including Excel spreadsheets and charts. The database will reside and be maintained in the Electronic Data Warehouse as a supply universe so users will be able to perform logistics analyses on demand. Real-time supply analysis capability will be available to all Integrated Logistics System-Supply (ILS-S) users via the Air Force Centralized Supply Database and the ILS-S Discoverer tool as part of the SBSS modernization efforts under Release 1.2.

The ACC RSS C53.net serves as the foundation and benchmark for the Air Force RSS stock control tool of the future. The USAFE RSS team developed the new and improved proof of concept that includes all current capabilities and expands to meet the requirements of a post-9/11 RSS community. This will include enhanced multidimensional views by stock class and base with drill-down capability to the stock numbers.

The ACC RSS MICAP report builder was selected as the foundation for the Air Force RSS MICAP tool. Currently, the PACAF RSS and the ACC RSS Development Team are ensuring customers have the ability to generate ad hoc reports and perform statistical queries on MICAP data, as well as view all history comments regarding any specific active MICAP. Customers can view single-hit, tail number statistics by weapon system, multiple-hit MICAPs, or all MICAPs at their bases.

One of the driving factors in tools standardization is to make getting the answers or the rest of the story easier for the airmen and civilians who are the backbone of the Air Force spares support business. ACC developed the 20 questions every MICAPer asks the item managers to help guide information technology requirements. According to Captain Jondavid DuVall, AMC Supply Systems Management:

If information technology can provide the answers during one click, then our supply troops, item managers, transporters, contractors, depot personnel, and so on can concentrate on getting that part to the customer faster. That is really the bottom line with our information technology efforts: finding the answers to all the questions so we can answer the mail and get back to the real business at hand and putting a part in the hand of maintenance troops a little faster so they can launch their aircraft.

Continued Improvements in Spares Support to the Warfighter

The regional supply squadrons directly support the Agile Combat Support core competency. Agile Combat Support sustains the full spectrum of military operations and steady-state peacetime operations. The regional supply squadrons enable light, lean, and lethal agile combat support and provide capability to meet a 72-hour response for food or bombs on target and flexible and efficient sustainment of deployed forces. Standardization of Air Force supply operations and expansion of the role of the regional supply squadrons, as outlined, will provide a much more responsive spares C2 process and improve support to the warfighter.
Table 1

Lead Command RSS-Designated Organizations

MAJCOM Aircraft Types

ACC CAF (fighters; bombers; intelligence
 surveillance, and reconnaissance; airborne
 C2; helicopters [excluding UH-1])

AMC MAF (airlift, tankers)

AFSOC SOF (special operations aircraft)

AETC White jet trainers

AFSPC Space and missile systems, UH-1


Notes

(1.) "The Supply Chain Management Processes," The International Journal of Logistics Management, Vol 12, No 2, 2001, 13.

(2.) "The Supply Chain Management and Logistics Controversy, Handbook of Logistics and Supply Chain Management, 2001, 108.

(3.) "The Supply Chain Management and Logistics Controversy," 120-124.

The LCRSSs identified in Table 1 are core MRSS organizations, with expanded responsibility for fleet-wide weapon system spares analysis and selective item distribution. This LCRSS effort, combined with initiatives to create a VICP and align supply chain management focus, will provide more emphasis on fleet-wide operational spares support for the weapon system and significantly improve Air Force spares C2.

VICP: Ms Alexander is a logisitcs management specialist, Materiel Management and Policy Division, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Installations and Logistics, and Mr Gunselman is a consultant, Dynamics Research Corporation (DRC), Directorate of Supply Chain Integration, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Installations and Logistics.

SCM: Major Cox is a program manager, Spares Command and Control, Supply Chain Integration and Logistics, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Installations and Logistics; Mr Mathews is chief, Integrated Spares Management, Directorate of Supply Chain Integration, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Installations and Logistics; and Mr Grehawick is a consultant, DRC, Directorate of Supply Chain Integration, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Installations and Logistics.

RSS: Major Brockway is flight commander, Special Mission Aircraft Support Flight, Air Combat Command Regional Supply Squadron, Langley AFB, Virginia; Captain DuVall is chief, Supply Systems Management, Air Mobility Command, Scott AFB, Illinois; Lieutenant Colonel Codispoti is chief Supply Warfighting Policy, Materiel Management and Policy Division, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Installations and Logistics; and Mr Masters is a consultant, DRC, Directorate of Supply Chain Integration, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff Installations and Logistics.
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Author:Alexander, Debbie; Gunselman, John; Cox, Jody; Mathews, Jonathan; Grehawick, Gregory; DuVall, Jondav
Publication:Air Force Journal of Logistics
Date:Sep 22, 2002
Words:6942
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