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New logistics squadron serves as focal point for distribution

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Sept. 26, 2002) -- Supply, transportation and logistics planning airmen will not only be sharing break rooms, orderly rooms and conference rooms soon. They will be sharing their squadron commander as well.

Two of the larger squadrons on Air Force bases, supply and transportation, and an additional unit pulled from the logistics support squadron, the logistics plans flight, will retire. The people assigned to those units will provide the foundation for the new logistics readiness squadron. Most Air Force bases are expected to have stood up the new squadron by Oct. 1.

The change comes as a result of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force Logistics Review, which began in the fall of 1999.

The lead action officer for the creation and implementation of the new squadron said the goal was to find a single point of contact for expeditionary logistics and combat readiness capability. Early CLR initiatives, said Lt. Col. Linda Dahl, focused on separate logistics support processes.

"We started out with the goal of creating a single distribution authority, a single point of contact for distribution at the wing," she said. "The concept was for the wing commander to be able to point to somebody and say, 'What's up?' And that somebody would know what the order status was, what the movement status was, and what the warehousing status was."

The new squadron meets that objective and then some, she said. As the single installation readiness authority, the LRS will be divided into six functional flights: distribution, readiness, management and systems, traffic management, vehicle management, and fuels. The LRS Action Team developed the new flights by looking at core processes performed by those working within the old organizations.

"First we identified all the transportation, supply and logistics plans core processes and aligned like processes into groupings," the colonel said. "Those groupings became flights."

Each new flight draws on the skills of airmen and officers from one or more of the old organizations. Integration is the key, Dahl said, allowing the new organization to provide core competencies critical to the air and space expeditionary force construct. The LRS will fully integrate planning and control for contingencies, distribution and materiel management. The result, she said, will be a wing able to respond to AEF taskings without missing a step in deploying themselves and creating an operating location at the other end.

Dahl said the goal was to eliminate redundant processes. Each of the three organizations had their own unique cultures, identities and ways of doing things, and the Air Force kept only the best processes and methods.

"Transportation typically had a base training manager, but supply used a person who would be pulled out of (his or her Air Force specialty code) work to handle training for the squadron," she said. "By putting the two squadrons together, supply benefits by having the resource of that training manager." Those in transportation benefit from the merger as well.

"Supply had a very mature funds management program, because they had the stock control, and they had their (operations and maintenance). They had manpower allotted to do that," Dahl said. "In the transportation world, budget management and resource management was an additional duty. By combining the capabilities from both areas, we have manpower to do those jobs."

The effectiveness of the LRS structure has already withstood real-world strain. In fact, it has already received accolades from commanders whose bases were LRS test sites. Six bases -- Langley Air Force Base, Va.; Ellsworth AFB, S.D.; Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; Kadena AB, Japan; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; McGuire AFB, N.J.; and Fairchild AFB, Wash. -- stood up test squadrons on Sept. 1, 2001.

"In the first monthly reports that came in, wing commanders heralded the readiness flight," Dahl said. "They said, 'What a change this has made.' The planners and executors were working together creating a truly strong team that got the mission done."

Transition to the new LRS structure will pose some short-term challenges such as orderly room restructuring and the relocation of some personnel, as well as cosmetic changes like new squadron patches, hats, and building signs.

But the short-term difficulties will be worth the payoff in the end, Dahl said.

"You know, change is always hard," she said. "Once all this settles down, you are going to see the efficiencies of a single point of contact for senior leadership for all activities associated with materiel management, distribution and deployment. That is our goal."