An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Ride the Smart Ops Wave

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jay Martin
  • 743rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
How many times have you asked or heard the question, "How am I going to be expected to continue to support my current mission requirements when the operations tempo is not decreasing and I am on the verge of potentially losing a significant amount of manpower? I can hardly keep up now!" Then you heard the huge push to stand up Smart Ops and get as many people as possible trained on the concepts and execution of Lean, and if you are anything like me, you probably started to twitch.

My first response was similar to that of many of you reading this,"Oh great another trendy AF program that will die on the vine. Yet, I still have to send my folks to useless training, even though I don't think I can afford to give up the manpower." Don't lie, that is what you thought too.

However, let's think about this logically for just a couple minutes. You know you are going to be required to continue to move the mission, put the air in Airborne, put the air in combat airlift and put the bad guys in the ground. If anything, the demands placed on you and/or your subordinates will likely increase before it decreases. Here is where Smart Ops and Lean are a brilliant fit for the current state of the force. It allows you to stop thinking about having to do more with less and empowers you to do less with less. Let me clarify that because at first glance it seems counterintuitive to what I've been saying. Smart Ops and Lean are designed to eliminate waste; wasteful processes, wasteful procedures, wasteful motion, dead time, etc. Given that your requirement to move the mission is not going away, but the manpower available to make it happen is, you can't afford not to get Smart and Lean. You can't afford to keep any waste. By cutting the waste as your manpower base is cut, you are doing less with less and ensuring the mission doesn't suffer.

Don't let the addition of new requirements such as Smart Ops and Lean get you down. They are not there to become an extra burden that keeps you from doing an ever-demanding and critically important job. Think of them as a tool to help you get out in front of the challenges that will arise when your manpower starts walking out the door. These are two things that are almost as certain as death and taxes. You will face challenges during our continued high ops tempo and you will be losing manpower. That is the key concept you need to take away from our rapidly changing Air Force. This transformation is going to occur whether you are ready, willing or in agreement with it. This wave is moving fast, gaining momentum and strengthening in force. You have two ways to handle the situation: you can either get out in front of it, riding the wave towards successful mission accomplishment or you can fight it and get overtaken by it. I don't know about you, but I would much prefer to ride the wave than wipe out. Our Airmen and their mission are far too important to let them wipe out, so get them ready and make sure they are prepared to ride the wave.