Tired of the thrash?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Edwin Redman, 509th Operations Group deputy commander
  • and Capt. Tiffany Arnold, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Are you tired of the thrash--the furious pace of operations with no end in sight? Are you tired of hearing, "That's the way we've always done it"?

If you have been assigned to Whiteman for any time, then probably you are.

The operational tempo, exercise schedule and manning shortfalls have made it tough for all of us to perform the 509th mission. For those who work around the B-2, the short supply of parts as the jet gets older has made things even tougher.

Good news: Help is on the way. Whiteman's leadership understands that the present circumstances require something more than just telling Airmen to do "more with less." Our senior leaders are working with major command headquarters and higher on our manning issues, especially in the 509th Maintenance Group. They also are leading the effort to resolve our spare parts problems through the entire supply chain. This is something for us all to be excited about, but these changes may take months before we see improvement.

Fortunately, there are in-house improvements that might help us here and now. Recently an Air Force Smart Operations 21 conference met to look at how we generate B-2 sorties at Whiteman AFB. The primary goal of AFSO21 is to eliminate wastes of time, manpower and money. As an expeditionary force, we must be able to identify wasteful processes and fix them. We recognize that there is a great opportunity to reduce the pain if we improve our own processes and lines of communication. Simple changes may radically improve how we put B-2s in the sky, and these steps won't require outside help. Our goal over the next several months is to look at creative solutions and find a way to fly the number of sorties we need to be combat ready for war, without so much pain.

What can you do in this effort? First, be prepared to be asked what you do from day to day to generate sorties. Second--and this should be easy--be ready to let us know what frustrates you about the current process, so that we can look for relief. Third, be patient as we all try to implement changes to the existing system. There will be ideas and concepts implemented that are drastically different from the way we have been doing business, and there will be a natural resistance to this change that we all must recognize and resist. Finally--and most important--as operators, maintainers, suppliers and those who support flying operations, let's meet this process of change with enthusiasm and open-mindedness. We are all on the same team, working to balance the need for good jets and good pilots in times of war.

We look forward to working on sortie generation for the next several months. Our goal is to generate combat training missions...without the thrash!