WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – For the past six months with Brig. Gen. Sean Farrell in charge of the Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate (AFSAC) headquartered here, the organization has successfully executed several multi-billion dollar foreign military sales, reduced timeline for weapons system delivery and strengthened partnerships with American allies around the world.
A command pilot with more than 3,500 hours in the AC-130HC, AC-130W, AC-130U and C-130E, Farrell served as the Director, Strategic Plans, Programs and Requirements for the Air Force Special Operations Command prior to his arrival at AFSAC.
During a recent interview the general talked about his time with AFSAC and highlighted his vision for the future.
Q: You’ve been the AFSAC Director for six months, how are things going and what has been most surprising?
A: Things are going well. The most surprising thing has been the scope of the mission. The mission is not only unique, but it’s very broad in scope. We have 112 partner nations and nearly 3,000 foreign military sales cases valued at over $185 billion. The Air Force’s FMS portfolio is extensive and we work with many stakeholders including the Secretary of the Air Force’s International Affairs Office, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, U.S. Department of State, and program executive offices to get the job done.
Q: How has your experience as a pilot influenced the decisions that you’ve made?
A: My strength as a pilot was being able to focus my team on the desired or achievable outcomes. Successful pilots are able to understand what the mission objective is and make a series of small decisions that will lead to a successful mission. But I think that people who manage large organizations are able to do that whether they are a pilot or not.
Q: What are some of your priorities as AFSAC director?
A: My priorities are for us to deliver airpower capabilities to our international partners, create an environment for the workforce to thrive, implement cross cutting continuous process improvement initiatives and lastly standardize and enhance process discipline. What I’ve asked my workforce to do is if they are doing something that doesn’t contribute directly to one of those priorities, they should think about not doing it anymore. I think that that serves to focus the members of AFSAC on fulfilling our promise to our partners and allies to be the best security assistance team in the world.
Q: What are some of the successes AFSAC has experienced over the last six months?
A: We’ve had many successes. We concluded a $1.6 billion sale of the F-16 Block 70 aircraft to Slovakia; first of its kind capability to support a NATO ally. We successfully brought Belgium into the F-35 world, winning a global selection with a FMS case valued at $6.3 billion.
Internally we’ve continued to improve our FMS case development cycle times or when a country requests a capability to when we are ready to provide a Letter of Offer and Acceptance. We’ve been able to reduce that timeline by 9.7 percent. These successes are not ours alone. They are only possible because of the work we do with our PEOs, DSCA and SAF/IA teammates.
Q: Do you anticipate any changes to the FMS enterprise in the future?
A: What we are seeing today in foreign military sales is growth. In order to meet the national defense strategy we’re charged with being more competitive in the global environment. In order to do that we’ve been tasked to make our enterprise more agile, and more responsive. We are currently looking at more agile resourcing solutions as well as packaging high demand capabilities that would offer our international partners a quicker avenue to take a desired request or capability to contract.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received during your career?
A: A piece of advice I’ve received is ‘people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.’ Successful servant leaders focus on the workforce—growing subordinates to their maximum potential which sets the conditions for mission success.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: From day one, I’ve been impressed by the dedication of the FMS professionals at AFSAC, the world class support provided by the 88th Air Base Wing, and the outstanding leadership team at AFLCMC. I’m proud to be part of Team Wright-Patt!