“I think what makes our team great is we have a very good shared set of values in the Air Force core values. Those are foundational for me personally in how I live my life and how I try to lead and I think for most of our folks they are foundational in how they go about executing programs on behalf of the warfighter,” said Lt. Gen. Shaun Morris, who took command of Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on Sept. 3.
The general has been busy getting up to speed on the latest activities in the center’s vast portfolio. With 28,000 personnel across nine major operating centers, AFLCMC executes a $304 billion operating budget to deliver – from uniforms and ejection seats to aircraft and missiles – everything the warfighter needs to fly, fight and win.
With much of his prior experience in the acquisition community, the standard cycle of immersion briefings where program briefs on their latest efforts are like a trip down memory lane. Morris has led KC-46A Pegasus, foreign military sales and the weapons enterprises – both nuclear and non-nuclear, just to name a few.
He said the reinvigorated concerns about peer competition is driving the conversation on the need to pivot as an organization and deliver capability to the warfighter faster. Notably, since becoming the 22nd Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., has spoken about the need to “accelerate change or lose.”
“Gen. Brown is absolutely right, we have got to figure out as an organization how to be more responsive and certainly how to meet our commitments to the warfighter relative to schedule,” Morris said.
Many cite new acquisition authorities as a panacea. Morris sees the answer in using the right tool for the right application to achieve the right effect.
“We’ve always had lots of tools and lots of authorities. We haven’t always taken full advantage of them. I think what we have now is a real opportunity to look across a much broader range to ensure we are aligning in the best possible way our acquisition approach with the desired outcome and timeline,” Morris said. “We now have opportunities to do that in much more creative ways than we’ve done before.”
Recalling his experience with the Advanced Precision Kill Weapon system, Morris said this organization knows how to go fast and be innovative.
The larger effort for the center will be taking the best new ideas and getting them to scale.
“It is one thing to identify an opportunity to be innovative and do something better,” Morris said. “It’s a much bigger challenge to take that and apply it across either an entire weapon system or across the Air Force.”
Morris agreed technology, like advanced manufacturing and the Military Internet of Things, offers the potential for revolutionary advancement in battle management, sustainment and logistics. The Rapid Sustainment Office and others, he said, have been doing tremendous work in these areas, but the question of scale remains.
“I don’t have a great answer … yet … for how we enable scale,” Morris said, “but I think that is one of the most critical questions that we have to work our way through.”
The general said he is 100% focused on capability in terms of our ability to perform the mission for the warfighter. He believes that focus will drive the organization as we move into a post-COVID-19 world.
“I absolutely don’t care from a location perspective where we do that from as long as we can accomplish the mission. So I have a zero percent focus on capacity and a 100% focus on capability,” he said. “My only expectation is we’re balancing the risk appropriately with a focus on mission and a focus on personal safety.”
He said the work by the C3I and Networks team at Hanscom Air Force Base early in our COVID-19 response enabled the organization to continue meeting the mission and may light the way for the future.
“What we need to think about now is what does this look like in the future. What is the end state?”
There are a lot of things we need to work through like culture, onboarding of new employees and training to name a few. Morris said the questions he is engaged with center leadership on is who will comprise our future workforce, where they will work and how they will meet the mission.
In closing, Morris said he looks forward to working with the team on delivering capability to the warfighter.
“I’d like to reiterate how excited my wife and I are to be here back in (AFLCMC), back with the team and really excited about doing everything we can to make (AFLCMC) better.”
For the full interview with Gen. Morris, check out the Leadership Log vodcast at https://youtu.be/y7BNftTF7v0