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Air Force poised for Expeditionary Combat Support System

WASHINGTON -- Touted as the largest change in Air Force logistics history, the Expeditionary Combat Support System will establish the service's first capability to globally view, standardize and manage logistics resources, officials said here during the program's kick off Oct. 22.

Designed to close process gaps and increase transparency, ECSS will use enterprise resource planning software to more efficiently manage major end items, materiel, people, training and funds.

"ECSS is the platform Air Force logistics uses to deliver operational capability and it's more than just information technology," said Lt. Gen. Loren Reno, deputy chief of staff for logistics, installations and mission support. "It's about change management with new processes, new terminology and new systems. It's more than changing logistics; it's changing engineering, contracting, and communications."

Grover Dunn, the Air Force director of transformation, said the ambitious endeavor to enable the transformation effort across both major commands and functions will take time to reach its full potential, but will happen relatively quickly, considering the program's scale.

"We've never tried to change all the processes, tools and languages of all 250,000 people in our business at once, and that's essentially what we're about to do, starting with the first release over the next two-and-a-half year period," Mr. Dunn said.

Mr. Dunn explained the fundamental changes expand beyond the borders of information technology by ensuring Air Force logisticians ultimately have an integrated end-to-end supply chain that enables them to do their jobs.

"We really wanted to elevate our game by taking business intelligence and fusing it with our operational brethren in a more synchronized way," he said. "We need to have visibility and accountability."

Mr. Dunn said the "visibility and accountability" will include more useful and standardized data in the contingency and execution processes.

"There are a lot of people on the back end of processes who do nothing but sort through data," Mr. Dunn said. "ECSS will integrate more useful data up front and provide a better determination of capacities and capabilities."

Transformation officials said pilot programs with about 90 Air Force users maintaining vehicles and issuing tools are already in place at Hanscom Air Force Force Base, Mass., and Robins AFB, Ga. In December, 150 support base users will participate in a second pilot program at Langley AFB, Va.; Scott AFB, Ill.; Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio; and the Defense Finance and Accounting System.

Air Force officials will conduct large-scale ECSS testing in February 2012 at MacDill AFB, Fla., and Ellsworth AFB, S.D., before worldwide fielding begins in summer 2012.