Air Force AFSO21 program aims for continuous improvement

RP news wires

Committing to improvement has been a continuous battle cry of the Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century ever since its conception.

Otherwise known as AFSO21, the program aims to strengthen the ability of every Airman to drive improved mission performance. This is in line with the Air Force's strategic goals and objectives through continuously enhancing methodologies, strengthening management effectiveness and shaping mindsets and behavior.

"It is basically a continuous process improvement," said Master Sgt. Michael Buhat, Aviano AFSO21 superintendent and facilitator. "We have the tools and techniques that were borrowed from the civilian sectors that teach us how to identify and eliminate waste."

These wastes include processes, tasks and "stuff that does not add value to the customer." Focusing on generating efficiencies and improving combat capabilities, AFSO21 applies to all of the processes associated with the Air Force mission.

"There's eight types of wastes that we've identified," Sergeant Buhat said. "They summed it down to a good acronym – DOWNTIME."

These include defects, overproduction, waiting, non-standard work, transportation, intellect, motion and excess inventory.

"If you have those in your process, and they don't add value to the customers, they are considered waste," Sergeant Buhat said.

Following an eight-step model, the AFSO 21 process includes:

  • Clarify and validate the problem
  • Break down the problem and identify performance gaps
  • Set improvement target
  • Determine root causes
  • Develop countermeasures
  • See countermeasures through
  • Confirm results and process, and
  • Standardize successful processes


According to Master Sgt. Joshua McCulloch, Aviano AFSO21 facilitator, the goal of the AFSO21 is to meet the "Commitment to Improvement" slogan of Brig. Gen. C. Q. Brown Jr., 31st FW commander.

"We want to take all the processes that fit into General Brown's overview of his mission, and we want to make every process that we can as efficient as possible so that the wing is as productive as possible," Sergeant McCulloch said.

Sergeant Buhat said AFSO21 boils down to the mission.

"We do our job and improve our process so we can effectively execute our mission," he said. "The Air Force basically wants every Airman, from airman basic to general officers, to be problem solvers; seek for problems and opportunities of improvement."

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