Special Operations News

1st SOW unit wins CSAF 2009 Team Excellence Award

HURLBURT FIELD, FL Five teams were recently selected by the Air Force chief of staff to receive the prestigious Team Excellence Award for 2009, and Air Force Special Operations Command’s C-130 Isochronal Inspection Team from Hurlburt Field was among the recipients.

The Air Force Chief of Staff Team Excellence Awards recognize teams who used a systematic approach to enhance mission capability, improve operational performance and create sustained results.

“It was about keeping ‘iron on the battlefield’ to support the war fighter, and we could not have achieved the overwhelming success we’ve seen without all the members on the team, which was lead by Headquarters AFSOC and includes a contract maintenance team from L3 Communications,” said Capt. James May, 1st Special Operations Maintenance Squadron operations officer and C-130 ISO team member.

An isochronal or ISO inspection is a major maintenance requirement for all C-130 aircraft and must be performed every 450 days, and according to Capt. May, is very in-depth and labor intensive.

“We are faced with the ever-present problem of having a limited supply, high-demand C-130 fleet, compounded by the fact that we had to stand up Cannon Air Force Base without the maintenance facilities capable of supporting C-130 ISO,” Captain May said.

The AC-130H/U gunship is one of the most in demand weapon systems on the battlefield today, and Navy Adm. Eric Olson, United States Special Operations Command commander, personally requested that something be done to increase availability of this critical weapons system. That’s when the Hurlburt C-130 ISO team went into action.

For nearly two years, the ISO team used value stream mapping, process analysis, work standardization and other LEAN tools to find ways to better plan for and execute this critical ISO inspection with the goal of reducing the amount of time the aircraft were unavailable for mission requirements.

At Hurlburt Field, the ISO flow process dropped from 15 days to 9.2 days. This reduction allowed the team to take on ISO inspections for Duke Field, Fla., and Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, resulting in a 30-day reduction of normal flow times.

“Using this new ISO process, we have returned 941 days of aircraft availability to the warfighter over the last two years,” Captain May said. “In addition, the new streamlined maintenance process has saved the Air Force more than $1.7 million and is not special operations specific, so it can easily be adapted to other airframes.”

Improvements made by all the Air Force Chief of Staff Team Excellence Award nominees combined could save the Air Force as much as $1.5 billion in the next year.

“Your efforts lay the foundation for further improvements,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. “This is what we need to do as a matter of routine, because these efforts do make a difference and help continue to make a better Air Force we all aspire to have.”

The AFSOC ISO team members were Captain May, Master Sgt. Charlie Musgrove, AFSOC ISO centralized repair facility manager, Tech. Sgt. Mike Jefferies, logistics operations cell material manager, and Audie Mora, L3 program manager. The team was led by Mark Ford, logistics operations branch chief.

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