Consolidated installation support services brings new level of standardization
By Col. Susan Airola-Skully , 81st Mission Support Group commander
/ Published November 10, 2014
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The Air Force recently stood up the Air Force Installation Mission Support Center, a new subordinate command that will consolidate the functional responsibilities and activities of multiple support areas under a single command.
Consolidation of these support responsibilities means functional support areas at every Major Command will be eliminated and multiple support field operating agencies--Air Force Security Forces Center, Air Force Civil Engineer Center, Air Force Installation Contracting Agency, Air Force Cost Accounting Agency/Financial Management Center of Expertise, Air Force Financial Services Center, the Services Directorate of the Air Force Personnel Center and others -- will realign under the AFIMSC. The AFIMSC is aligned under the Air Force Materiel Command.
Interesting, but what does this new command mean for you, me and all of the other customers at Keesler?
As a whole, we should expect this new command to have minimal effect on the customer support we currently receive from base organizations such as Security Forces, Force Support, Contracting, and the Civil Engineers. The personnel in these organizations will continue to respond to customer requirements and work hard to keep our friends and neighbors at Keesler happy, well-fed, safe and secure.
From an Air Force perspective, it's important to consider the driving force behind the establishment of the AFIMSC. Its genesis comes from a directive at the highest levels of defense. In 2013, the Secretary of Defense directed each Service to find efficiencies that would reduce costs and staff levels by at least 20 percent.
The Air Force Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Air Force challenged their staffs to identify redundancies and inefficiencies in the Air Force structure and to streamline how we do business wherever possible. The idea behind the stand-up of the AFIMSC is to allow the Air Force to reduce or eliminate functional support offices at every MAJCOM and at Headquarters Air Force.
"This is a fundamental paradigm shift in how the Air Force has historically controlled and delivered installation support capabilities," said Bill Booth, the Air Force's acting deputy chief management officer. "As we look ahead to 2023, this new command structure will focus on consolidating installation support responsibilities from the Headquarters Air Force, major commands and multiple field operating agencies."
Consolidation of installation support services should also bring a new level of standardization across the Air Force. As customers, this means the great base services we enjoyed while stationed at a PACAF base will be the same great services offered when we PCS to a base in ACC or USAFE or AETC.
"The new AFIMSC aligns Air Force-wide installation support authorities, responsibilities and resources to one accountable commander. The consolidation will drive standardized processes, eliminate overhead and drive down costs," said Timothy K. Bridges, Installations deputy assistant secretary. "It makes good business sense to centralize installation support the way we already centralize other support functions such as science and technology, test and sustainment."
Luckily, the Air Force has a blueprint to follow for this initiative. The Army stood-up its Army Installation Management Command (originally the Installation Management Agency) in 2002. While it's been an evolutionary process, the Army has been able to better standardize its services and facilities across all installations and realize savings. By 2006, they were accomplishing their support mission spending $4.5 billion less than in 2003.
While the ultimate goal for creation of the AFIMSC is more efficiency, less cost and streamlined customer service, there will be growing pains. As a customer, the service you receive at Keesler shouldn't change. However, the person behind the counter or on the phone may be struggling to find the correct information from the right person at AFIMSC because their tried and true AETC representative is no longer available.
It is possible that services uniquely offered at Keesler may be tweaked as the AFIMSC seeks to standardize base offerings and facilities.
We've seen change before in our Air Force and we will see change again; it's one thing we can count on.