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Wing poised for Expeditionary Combat Support System

Mr. Mike McCarthy, Air National Guard Readiness Center, explains the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) to 162nd Fighter Wing members at Tucson International Airport, Aug. 23. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

Mr. Mike McCarthy, Air National Guard Readiness Center, explains the Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) to 162nd Fighter Wing members at Tucson International Airport, Aug. 23. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Dave Neve)

TUCSON, Ariz. -- The Air Force is in the midst of a historic transformation. The way it's organized and the ways that airpower is employed are changing in revolutionary ways. Changing, too, are the ways in which Air Force logisticians provide support to warfighters.

The Expeditionary Combat Support System (ECSS) is the cornerstone enabler of the logistics transformation effort. Using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution, ECSS is applying best commercial practices and using industry-proven tools to establish the Air Force's first capability to globally view and manage its logistics resources - major end items, materiel, people and funds.

But ECSS is much more than an IT system. It will fundamentally change business processes, personnel roles and jobs across the spectrum of the Air Force logistics community. Locally, ECSS will drive dramatic changes and improvements in the way logistics is done.

For example, the process of scheduling a repair currently means setting a repair date on the base level without the ability to ensure technicians, parts, facilities, tools, etc., are available Air Force wide. With ECSS, an integrated global view of people and parts availability will enable greater scheduling effectiveness and ultimately increase availability of repaired components or major end items. Simply put, Air Force logisticians will have what they need to get the job done when repairs are system-scheduled under ECSS.

Citing another example, today Air Force logisticians collectively rely on paper forms and enter data into multiple base-level systems. This labor-intensive effort will be replaced by entering data once into one system. When fully implemented, ECSS will replace hundreds of logistics information systems and will be the single source of truth for logistics information.

While it will be several years before ECSS reaches full operational capability and its benefits are fully realized, the implementation process is already underway. And, that process will affect the 162nd very soon as the wing is postured to implement ECSS by May 2013.

To help with that preparation, the ECSS program conducted its kick-off meeting with 162nd Fighter Wing leaders and ECSS users Aug. 23. During the meeting, an ECSS program official from the Air National Guard Readiness Center, Mr. Mike McCarthy, provided an informational and educational briefing about ECSS, its goals, program timelines and how the Air
Force will be affected.

At the kick-off, Mr. McCarthy introduced our field agent, Mr. Steve Oliver, to the base leadership and base population. Mr. Oliver is part of Team ECSS and will assist the 162nd's site transformation lead on various ECSS activities. The site transformation lead is Lt. Col. Gregory Bliss, 162nd Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. Colonel Bliss will work with each section to ensure all are ready for ECSS.

The kick-off represents the beginning of the ECSS organizational change management program, which is designed to prepare everyone for this transformation effort.

History tells us that no change is ever successful until individual behaviors change. The people who perform Air Force logistics processes, from all functional communities, must personally engage in the transformative aspects of ECSS in order for it to succeed.

As is always the case, these sweeping changes will not be easy, as long-standing ways of doing business will either dramatically change or completely disappear. ECSS will pull people from their comfort zones and cause them to do new tasks in different, unfamiliar ways. To help logisticians navigate these changes, the ECSS program will provide education and training programs for those who will use the new system.

An Air Force-wide change agent network, supported by an ECSS program team, will share information on ECSS activities, schedules and lessons learned and conduct local problem-solving meetings to help smooth implementation at each installation. This same network will support the sustainment of ECSS after fielding is completed.

ECSS will drive changes in the way the Air Force does business and the way logisticians perform their jobs. The result will be an Air Force enterprise better enabled to provide its warfighters the right materiel at the right time. ECSS will also enable logisticians to use their time more productively, significantly reducing the cost of accomplishing the Air Force logistics mission.

Under the current schedule, the 162nd Fighter Wing will be among the first to realize the benefits that ECSS will bring to the Air Force. To learn more about ECSS, visit https://www.ecss.wpafb.af.mil.