What AFSO 21 Means Published Jan. 16, 2007 By Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo Air Force Print News HIICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii (AFPN) -- Air Force Smart Operations 21 is important to all of us. It is our initiative and a way to continue our long tradition of improving Air Force operational capability. But what is it exactly? Many Airmen have heard the term AFSO 21 and the words associated with it such as LEAN and SIX SIGMA. Air Force Smart Operations is a broad umbrella of saying, "lets think about all the different ways that we can use tools, technology, equipment and our people to run stronger operations in the Air Force." The most important underlying philosophy and set of ideas and tools that will help us be effective in AFSO 21 is LEAN. LEAN is a system of organizing and managing that requires less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time than that of the previous system. "Like any other organization, we have to constantly give value to our customers. AFSO 21 signifies a shift in our thinking as to how to provide value," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne. "It doesn't just look at how we can do each task better, but asks the tougher more important question 'Why are we doing it this way?' 'Is each of the tasks relevant, productive and value added?' in other words is it necessary? With AFSO 21 we will march unnecessary work out the door," said Secretary Wynne. AFSO 21 is about combat capability. It achieves this by relentlessly strengthening the Air Force with five program objectives- increasing the productivity of our most valued asset- the Airmen, significantly increasing critical equipment availability rates, improve response time and agility, sustain safe and reliable operations and improve energy efficiency. "If you are moving against any of those five dimensions; productivity of people, aircraft equipment, response time, safety and energy efficiency, you are driving the right direction," said Special Assistant for Air Force Smart Operations to the Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Ronald C. Ritter. According to Dr. Ritter we have been doing this since there was an Air Force. The first Airmen got up over the field of France during WWI and said, "How do I use airplanes better and fast?" That is what AFSO 21 is all about- looking at all operations that we conduct and thinking of ways to do it better, faster, stronger and more capable. "I believe we will do it because we have a history of doing it," said Dr. Ritter. "This will not happen because Pentagon leaderships says it's important; it will happen because you will do it. The action on this occurs in the field. There is an opportunity for everybody at the front line to engage on this and make it happen," he said. AFSO 21 is centered on processes rather then tasks alone so every Airman has a stake in it. Airmen should feel a sense of empowerment since no process is immune from this critical review.