Air Force Materiel Command is beset by manpower shortages, same as every other area in the Air Force, but commander Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski thinks that she can get waivers to the recent hiring freeze because some of her empty positions are critical to national security. Speaking to reporters at AWS17, Pawlikowski said one of her biggest challenges is “growth in programs” because old programs are not being shut down. She needs to create a Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program office, she said, but programs like the A-10, which she was told to expect would go away, are being retained. GBSD is “pretty important,” she said, and the “implications are pretty serious” if a new—and additive—program office can’t be properly staffed. While “I’m feeling pretty comfortable that we can make the case” for exemptions to the freeze on that project, its effect is being felt across the command, with the potential to slow things down. She’s also put her people to work trying to better define just what “skill sets” a program office needs, so that no more people than the minimum needed are assigned. Still, AFMC continues to rebound from the Total System Performance Responsibility (TSPR) days when government depended on contractors to oversee themselves. In some problematic projects, Pawlikowski said the SPOs still don’t have enough expertise in engineering or manufacturing.
See also: Magicians and Machines from the April/May issue of Air Force Magazine.