During the annual “State of the Center” address Jan. 13, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander discussed overcoming challenges during the pandemic, detailed the center’s investments in critical information technology infrastructure, and provided thoughts on the future of the center.
Regarding the pandemic, Lt. Gen. Shaun Morris, the AFLCMC commander, discussed the flexibility of the workforce, noting that he is encouraged by the resiliency demonstrated across the center. He also believes the Air Force and the center have made some significant IT infrastructure investments that have greatly enhanced the organization’s ability to operate.
“In the future, these investments will be important if telework is going to be part of our strategy going forward,” he said. “As an Air Force, I think it is important to capitalize off what we’ve done and not lose sight of these investments.”
Since March 2020, teams within the Enterprise IT and Cyber Infrastructure Division of the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorate, headquartered at Hanscom AFB, have worked to boost Air Force network capacity for more than 200,000 teleworkers service-wide.
During the year, AFLCMC has also made investments in commercial solutions, like 5G, in an effort to increase network speeds and improve device performance for service members and government civilians and contractors operating on military bases.
The general also emphasized digital engineering, agile software development and open systems architecture.
“When you combine digital engineering and model-based systems engineering with agile software development in an open systems architecture, you have a process that allows flexibility and responsiveness in addressing the rapidly evolving threats that may be occurring anywhere in the world,” he said.
The general, at multiple points in his address and during a robust question-and-answer session, stressed cultivating an open systems architecture that maintains agile and interoperable systems.
“How we can be successful against our competition really comes down to what (Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) Dr. Roper has driven across all of our programs,” Morris said. “Now that we’re invested in agile software development and we’ve stood-up new organizations, like Kessel Run, or Maj. Gen. Michael Schmidt‘s Cloud One and Platform One, we need to bring in model-based systems engineering and digital engineering, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.”
The general suggested that a flexible AFLCMC workforce that understands data analytics is key to ensuring a competitive advantage over near-peer adversaries.
“Our workforce has tools at their disposal and they do a remarkable job of selecting how to do the best job possible,” Morris said. “I think it’s important that we don’t dictate how they get the job done. We don’t need to sub-optimize the system.”
Also during the question-and-answer session, the general discussed how AFLCMC is providing a new self-paced online platform for acquisition officers to receive specific training and education.
“One of the things we’ve done is create Digital University inside Richard Aldridge‘s office (Program Executive Officer for Business and Enterprise Systems and Director of the Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate, Maxwell Air Force Base, Gunter Annex, Alabama),” Morris said. “It’s a pull-type education process where you can obtain information and training on a specific tool in order to do your job. I think this is the model for how we move forward because as the system becomes more dynamic, we need more dynamic training tools that give focused and specific training that you need when you need it.”
AFLCMC is responsible for total life cycle management for aircraft, engines, munitions, electronic, computer, network, cyber and agile combat support systems. The center employs more than 28,000 people and has a budget of approximately $304 billion.
Morris assumed command of the AFLCMC Sept. 3, 2020.
The “State of the center” address was part of the AFCEA New Horizons Speaker Series presented by the Lexington-Concord chapter of AFCEA.