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448th Supply Chain Management Wing meets challenges of COVID-19

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

As the Air Force’s single point of wholesale supply chain management operations, the 448th Supply Chain Management Wing is definitely mission essential.

With the onset of the coronavirus, the wing has had to adjust the way it does business in order to meet the demands of its mission.

Dennis D’Angelo, 448th SCMW director, credits the resilience of his people and processes, which have enabled the team to maintain operations on all Mission Essential Tasks and continue to support their customers at the same level than before the onset of the pandemic.

“To protect our people and reduce the spread of the virus, we have dispersed our workforce and, in some cases, reduced non-essential tasks,” D’Angelo said. “We are using the best available information technology to stay connected with each other, our suppliers and customers. To date, we are able to handle the disruptions.”

Approximately 91 percent of wing personnel at Tinker, Hill, and Robins Air Force Bases are teleworking, but according to D’Angelo, “transition plans are in development to return the workforce to wing locations in a methodical, reasonable and safe manner.”

D’Angelo said, in concert with the 635th Supply Chain Operations Wing, COVID-19 has disrupted transportation on the ground, in the air, and over the sea. He said overall that there has been nearly a 10 percent decrease in commercial ground transportation, with a 6.7 percent decrease in rail volumes. Air cargo transportation has increased with an enormous decrease in passenger service. D’Angelo said 62 percent of aircraft are currently in storage.

“Additionally, there has been a decrease in sea transportation,” D’Angelo said. “The Trans-Pacific has seen a 20 percent decrease in scheduled sailings for April, with that trend continuing into May. Ports are also dealing with an imbalance of cargo due to production interruptions, transportation, surges, and decreases in demand.” 

Despite the worldwide transportation issues, D’Angelo said supply chain priority cargo movement has remained largely unaffected, and the wing has met mission requirements, even with a large number of suppliers also dealing with the effects of the virus.

“With 45 states in shelter-in-place/stay-at-home orders, that affects a total of 1,133 of our suppliers,” D’Angelo said. “However, restrictions are beginning to lift for about half of the states, and we expect that number drop to approximately 652 suppliers in affected locations.”

D’Angelo said the Defense Industrial Base has been exempted from state restrictions, allowing operations to continue even with suppliers in affected areas. 

“Our suppliers, like our workforce, have been dealing with the same issues -- affected employees, school and daycare closures, teleworking conditions and limited supplies,” he said. “Despite these issues, most businesses remained open and were able to maintain production schedules with minor delays. We are working with our commercial partners to track their operational status and identify any weapon system impacts as a result of closures so mitigation actions can be implemented.

With states starting to loosen restrictions, D’Angelo said it is important to have realistic expectations on suppliers getting back to full operations.

“We expect a slow transition of employees returning to the workplace, which may slowly increase suppliers’ abilities to meet demands,” he said. “As the economy improves, suppliers who provide commercial support should begin to recover. Many states have a phased approach to lifting restrictions and are expected to implement contingencies should the spread of the virus increase. It may take a significantly long time to return to full operations.”  

D’Angelo praised the men and women of the Air Force Sustainment Center who continue to meet the challenge of performing the mission under difficult circumstances.

“Our warfighter customers and suppliers should never doubt that the 448th SCMW team is here to support them,” he said. “I am certain the way we do business in the future will not look like it did before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I am extremely confident in the professionalism, innovativeness, and resiliency of the men and women of the 448th SCMW. Our strengths, mission focus, and core values will ensure we continue to supply warfighter dominance to the Air Force. I am incredibly proud and absolutely impressed with our team’s ability to prevail when faced with difficult situations. It is an honor and privilege to serve alongside them.” 

The 448th SCMW is a geographically distributed wing, operating at three locations in three different time zones, headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and employs approximately 3,000 civilian and military personnel.

The wing is responsible for all aspects of planning and executing spares requirements for aircraft, engines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, Space and Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence, and a wide range of support equipment, pods, and missiles. Planning and execution also extend to programmed depot maintenance, engine overhaul, commodity/equipment repair, commodity sustaining engineering, and supply chain readiness to more than 50 partner nations. With an operating budget of $6.2 billion, managing 102,000 items with an inventory value of $54.3 billion, the wing qualifies as a Fortune 500 company.