BURLINGTON, Mass. – The commander of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center spoke about the Center’s mission, challenges it’s facing, along with the future of the Air Force overall during a State of the Center address Feb. 10.
Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry said that his personnel are great at their jobs and are working “miracles” in order to keep old platforms flying. He also noted that it’s been a long time since the Air Force has purchased many new weapon systems.
“There is recognition that the Air Force has been focused on violent extremism, and we’ve been in combat since 1990, but we’re moving into a phase of modernization with platforms such as the F-35, B-21 and new helicopter,” he said.
Talking about the Air Force’s innovative culture shift, McMurry relayed information from the Air Force Service Acquisition Executive.
“We need to change what we buy, how we buy it, and who we buy it from,” he said. “What we buy needs to be more networks, more cross-communication; for how, we need to have strong use of 804 mid-tier acquisition; and for from whom, we need a broader industry base, with more non-traditionals.”
He mentioned pitch days as one way to bring in some non-traditional organizations, noting that some personnel attending current pitch days wouldn’t even have thought of doing business with the government five years ago.
McMurry also mentioned Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, saying it’s powered by the Air Battle Management System. ABMS has six lines of effort with 28 product development lines, none of which look like a platform of today.
“This is not the new JSTARS,” he said. “It’s enabling the sharing of information between machines, equipment, capability systems at the speed of machine-to-machine processing to enable combat capabilities.”
McMurry added that, as platforms and weapon systems are modernized, he faces vexing issues such as the lack of facility modernization and issues with the Air Force network.
“We’ve been taking risks with our facilities because we’ve needed to take the money to pay for ongoing operations, and now we have a $25 billion backlog,” he said. “We’re going to need to be more innovative, which often involves privatization and/or partnerships.”
The Air Force network is a “hyper-vexing” challenge, McMurry said, mentioning a survey they did across the center where personnel said they lose up to eight hours of productivity a week due to network issues.
“This is why we’re pushing for cloud processing and IT-as-a-service. How can we get to a faster performing network with less down time?”
Asking the audience of government and industry members who among them wanted to hire personnel with data analytic, AI, robotics and software experience and getting a large response, the commander noted the obvious hiring challenge.
“We’re all competing for the same talent, and the state of our facilities and network are affecting our ability to get talent,” McMurry said.
During his presentation, the commander also spoke about DevSecOps, the Digital Enterprise and Space Force.
In closing, McMurry once again touched on the importance of the center and its people.
“Our job is to support the warfighter, and I have 26,000 people doing that and I want them to be competent, motivated and be the best, including understanding their business,” he said. “It takes a bigger team effort, including having our industry partners understand what we’re about.”
The event was sponsored by the Lexington-Concord chapter of AFCEA.