effort. Although significant work remains, there is recognition within the Air Force that sustainment is important, complex, and expensive.


Element 2 of the TOR states, in part, “to accomplish the sustainment goals of the Air Force.” The committee maintained a constant focus on the Air Force sustainment goals, not only for the purpose of addressing them in this report, but also because goals drive organizations. When a goal is generally understood, then there are more likely to be a common purpose and higher probability of success. In its numerous discussions with Air Force personnel, the committee posed the following questions:

  • What are the sustainment goals of the Air Force?
  • Who sets the goals?
  • How are the goals established?
  • Who knows the goals?
  • How are the goals tracked and to whom are they reported?

The answers were interesting to say the least. In fact, the majority of respondents were unable to respond in detail. Many talked about aircraft availability (AA), but, as discussed later in this chapter and in Chapter 4, AA is a parameter that has many complex elements.2 Overall, who is in charge of achieving AA is in question. In its search for key sustainment goals, the committee became aware of a measure for improvement over time during a briefing on Expeditionary Logistics for the 21st Century (eLog21), which is a transformational Air Force campaign to drive supply chain improvements. The essence of a goal is represented by the last two bullets in Figure 2-1.

Despite what many people appear to believe, the goals for eLog21 do not also serve as the goals for Air Force weapon system sustainment. AA is far more widely reported than cost parameters as the goal. Committee members engaged various government and industry officials in extensive discussions regarding methodologies for assessing and calculating AA as well as which officials are accountable for AA. Unfortunately, the calculation responsibilities were better defined than the target’s ownership. In fact, after thoroughly investigating AA, the committee concluded that AA ownership is vague at best and that, because there are so many “cooks in the AA kitchen,” no one can be held truly accountable. The report’s discussion of


2 See, for example, the “quad chart” from: Ashton Carter, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology, and Logistics. “Strengthened Sustainment Governance for Acquisition Program Reviews.” Memorandum for Secretaries of the Military Departments. April 5, 2010.

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement