News: AMC logistics director, JB MDL Airmen make mutual impression
Story by Master Sgt. Denise Johnson
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- The Director of Logistics, Brig. Gen. Lee Levy II, from Headquarters Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., visited the 305th Air Mobility Wing and the 87th Air Base Wing here Feb. 24 to get a closer look at some of the people and assets he's responsible for.
Levy develops policy and provides critical guidance to organize, train and equip aircraft maintenance, aerial port, transportation, supply and logistics plans units at 14 active air installations in the United States and 17 en route locations around the world.
The general's one-day tour resulted in a demanding itinerary which included mission briefs and numerous stops at various agencies related to his oversight.
The 305th AMW Commander, Col. Paul Murphy, initiated the visit with a comprehensive brief outlining his wing's current operations and overall mission health.
The visit to the 305th provided the prime location for Levy to gain critical situational awareness on the KC-10 Extender.
"It was important for me to come here so I could get a sense of the KC-10 operations and make sure I have a good appreciation of the KC-10 fleet; historically, the tanker had some struggles, but it's definitely on the mend. All you have to do is look at the 305th's mission capability rates, statistics and other indicators and you'll know they are meeting the standards and climbing," Levy explained. "But in years past that has not always been the case, as a result of that, the KC-10 is very high on (Air Mobility Command Commander, Gen. Raymond Johns') radar scope. So that's one of the things I wanted to share with Colonel Murphy, his commanders and the team - I'm proud to say they've done a phenomenal job."
The 305th AMW's increasing mission capability rates have laid the groundwork for numerous operational successes overseas including support to the Persian Gulf region and to the Libyan conflict.
"I attribute that climb to basic blocking and tackling: back-to-basics aircraft scheduling and maintenance," Levy said.
The brief set the stage as the general set out to visit areas such as the 605th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron where Staff Sgt. Joshua Bickley provided a detailed overview of his squadron's deployment tempo.
Bickley, an aircraft maintenance journeyman assigned to the unit deployment management section, explained how his team found success as he provided testament to a challenging deployment schedule.
"We currently have 388 personnel assigned to this unit, all of whom can be rapidly deployed at a moment's notice. Last year (the 605th AMXS UDM office) processed 290 personnel," Bickley explained.
The general questioned certain taskings and the deployment-to-dwell ratio, taking careful note of the validity and logic behind mission requirements.
The squadron's maintenance operations officer and Boise, Idaho, native, Capt. Gary Charland, stepped up to provide the details Levy asked for before turning the floor back over to Bickley for the close of the brief.
Bickley, who hails from Covington, Wash., wrapped up the brief with statistics regarding the unit's high-operations tempo, "We have 35 primary flying crew chiefs, who last year flew over 1,400 missions encompassing more than 4,000 man days off-station."
Levy emphasized the need to train Airmen the right way from the onset, "If you invest the time to develop a three-level the right way, you'll have a good crew chief for life," explained Levy.
The distinguished visitor shared insight on new training mediums and creative problem solving such as creating maintenance training videos and airing them on popular video websites.
"I thought it was clever to use these platforms in this way -- it helps act as a force multiplier in terms of exposing new guys and gals to things they have yet to learn. Airmen can see the task done, step by step, at least once before walking out to the airplane. Social media can be your friend ... and it's free," Levy said.
In keeping with the force-multiplier theme, Bickley walked Levy through the office's Defense Travel System support area.
"If anyone comes in off the road and they're not familiar with the system, they have a self-service DTS center right here -- there are printers, scanners and computers at their fingertips with a wealth of expert support just over their shoulder," Bickley explained.
The director of logistics has every reason to be familiar with innovation and resources. He is responsible for 496 active aircraft, 8,200 vehicles and 24,000 people. He also assists in the readiness of more than 579 aircraft and 80,339 people in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, providing total force augmentation to support flexible, global reach for America.
As the command's senior logistics officer, Levy's trip warranted a luncheon with the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Logistics Officers Association.
Levy emphasized the power of relationships and the importance of fostering those relationships in professional organizations such as the LOA. The director underscored a key message from Johns, discussing how "'the why of our command is to answer the call so that others may prevail.'"
The common language of their shared logistics background enabled a quick rapport during which the director used the Air Force vice chief of staff's recent forecast regarding the future of the Air Force to pose some tough questions, "General (Philip) Breedlove said, 'We will do more with the same or we will do the same with less.' How do you relate to one another, how are your organizational constructs laid out and how do you do things like continual process improvement? What does your value stream map look like? Are you re-evaluating to make sure you're the most efficient you can be?"
Audience members posed an array of questions regarding topics spanning the restructure of AFMC to draw downs of personnel to common joint-base policies.
Levy explained how the Air Force moves in cycles responding to events, politics and the economy, "There are surges of resources and there are balances to those surges. I've been through three cycles when resource numbers drop; it can feel like the sky is falling, but it's not. We will still have the best air force that written history has ever known. I don't lose a wink of sleep about that."
As the director responded to a young officer's concern over job security, he posed one question in return.
"Are you good at what you do?" Levy asked. "... because the Air Force always has room for great talent."
The senior logistician left the group after addressing the final topic of whether or not there should be common policies for joint bases.
Each joint base is its own entity, he explained. The bases comprise different missions, different constructs of varying branches of service, different command structures; there is no one-size fits all when it comes to joint basing.
"If every Marine is a rifleman, every airman is an innovator," Levy said. "What we do best is innovate."
The distinguished guest and his escorts left the luncheon en route to several locations before wrapping up the JB MDL introduction at the 87th ABW Logistics Readiness Squadron.
The LRS team highlighted their equipment issue and deployment processes during which the general was introduced to Senior Airman Jonathan Kolhagen, a logistics plans journeyman and the 87th LRS Airman of the Year.
Levy asked the Virginia Beach, Va., native if he was working on his education, which Kolhagen confirmed he is indeed nearly finished with his bachelor's degree.
"That's smart," Levy responded. "No one can ever take your education -- they can take your stripes and your bars, but they can never take that away."
Levy presented Kolhagen with his coin in recognition of the senior airman's outstanding accomplishments.
"It was worth the preparations we made for his visit," said Kolhagen, who intends to apply for Officer Training School when his degree is finished.
"General Levy was really down-to-Earth and really seemed to care about people."
Kolhagen was not alone in his appreciation for the visit.
Bickley said he was grateful his supervisors chose him to brief the general.
He added that the opportunity added to his professional competence, "It was an honor to share what we do and how we contribute."
Bickley and Kolhagen were just two of many Airmen Levy met throughout the day -- where good impressions were reciprocated. "That's what I want: for my Airmen to be innovators -- to think broadly and look for better ways of doing business. That ties back to the inherent flexibility of airpower."
Levy's words left his mark on the various people and organizations he visited, covering myriad topics from mobility to fleet health and from organizational relationships to mentorship and training. From the 605th AMXS to the 87th LRS and many units between, his audiences' impressions reflected the value of the director's visit.
"I was pleased to show him that we've got the finest group of professionals out front supporting the combatant commanders on a daily basis," said Maj. A.J. Griffin, 605th AMXS commander and Albuquerque, N.M., native. "I am extremely proud of our squadron."
Levy was introduced to an array of units representing several responsibilities from under the director's diverse umbrella.
"My responsibilities include not only those of the director of logistics for AMC, but also for the mobility air forces, so I worry about all the aspects of MAF logistics -- whether it's the airplanes or air transportation or air cargo or supply or fuels, not just for the active duty but for the guard and reserve in addition to three other major commands -- so I can really cover a fair amount of real estate intellectually by coming to JB MDL," Levy explained.
Though the visit was short and Levy said he didn't have as much time here as he would have liked, the general said he gained a lot of knowledge from his stop here.
"What I take away from this visit is the amazing dedication of the men and women I've met at JB MDL -- everyone I've seen here is so dedicated," Levy concluded.