LEMOORE, Calif. (Dec. 17, 2019) Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, III, commander of Naval Air Forces, provides a readiness update to Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke during a visit to Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. Burke visited West Coast-based aviation commands and held small-group discussions with officers and Sailors, received updates on readiness and toured facilities. U.S. Navy photo by Eric Harrison.
Aviation leaders engage sustainment teams in West Coast 'Boots on Ground'
Naval Air Stations Lemoore and North Island, California -- The Naval Aviation Enterprise (NAE) hosted a two-day "Boots on Ground" (BoG) event Dec. 17-18 to follow up on more than a year of implementing the Naval Sustainment System-Aviation (NSS-A).
A collaboration between military and industry leaders to remove barriers, accelerate actions and improve processes, NSS-A encourages the adoption of commercial best practices and empowers commands to make changes.
BoGs provide opportunities for senior Naval Aviation leadership to meet teams across the fleet in person, creating more visibility into activities or needs across the NAE. This particular event covered two locations to allow leaders to see and hear firsthand how the NSS-A has affected two of the facilities most involved in and affected by the initiative.
Through NSS-A, Naval Aviation reached its goal of 80% mission capable strike fighter aircraft in September and has since rededicated its focus on sustaining those gains while also using them as a foundation to increase the lethality and survivability of those aircraft and aircrew. Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert Burke joined the BoG at NAS Lemoore and noted that the successes in Naval Aviation can be applied and shared in other communities to improve readiness across the board.
“2019 was a year of success for aviation maintenance improvements and readiness, thanks to immense work by both Navy Sailors and civilians, as well as our contracting and industry partners,” said Burke. “While naval aviation works to sustain record readiness levels, we continue to learn not just here, but everywhere.”
From the beginning of NSS-A last year, changes were made in the processes in aviation maintenance that reaped many rewards, including centralizing the production control centers in squadrons and at maintenance depots, improving communication across the enterprise to remove barriers at all levels, and building a culture of solving problems and constantly driving to solutions.
“It’s been a total team effort from all the men and women at FRC West and everyone at NAS Lemoore,” said Capt. Bret Washburn, commanding officer of Fleet Readiness Center West (FRCW). FRCW was one primary focus in the efforts to streamline aircraft maintenance as it is located at the West Coast master jet base of F/A-18 Hornets and F-35s, in Lemoore, California.
Lt. Gen. Steven Rudder, deputy commandant of the Marine Corps (Aviation), was especially impressed with how things are moving and that things just keep getting better.
“There is great work being done here at Lemoore, and it is history in the making,” Rudder said.
At FRC Southwest at NAS North Island, there was a clear indication of what can be accomplished through improving maintenance processes and communication in the system; in the V-22 Osprey section they have all the supplies and parts on station they needed to perform necessary maintenance on the aircraft anytime, serving as a model for future efforts.
Bill Taylor, assistant deputy commandant for aviation, Headquarters Marine Corps, emphasized the importance of focusing on the long term viability of NSS-A, and how it will remain successful going forward.
“What has made the difference is not the leadership, it’s the deckplate,” said Taylor. “True process improvement has to outlive leadership.”
Vice Admiral DeWolfe Miller, III, commander Naval Air Forces, emphasized that Naval Aviation worked hard and changed the way it does business.
“We watched this grow from the beginning and we should feel good about what we see here around us,” said Miller, the Navy’s 8th Air Boss. “Everyone involved in this effort had a hand in a major win for naval aviation and our nation."
Miller also emphasized that the mission isn’t complete, and that it’s called the Naval ‘Sustainment’ System for a reason.
“NSS-A is about long term success,” he said. “We have proven that we can not only sustain increased mission capable rates, but surge to unprecedented levels when asked to do so. We fly and fight as a team, and we will work together every day to ensure our force is ready to fight and win.”
BoGs provide opportunities for senior Naval Aviation leadership to visit locations across the fleet and have in-person conversations with the teams who work there, creating more visibility into activities or needs across the NAE. They allow NAE members to raise issues some of which are solved on site and some of which are taken for additional action.
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