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Research Questions

  1. What are the roles and responsibilities of AFSC and AFIMSC in providing support to the warfighter?
  2. How are AFSC and AFIMSC currently accomplishing those tasks — that is, processes, tools, systems, and doctrine?
  3. What analytic tasks must AFSC and AFIMSC perform to fulfill their roles and responsibilities?
  4. How do AFSC and AFIMSC communicate warfighter support to the warfighter and to other supply-side organizations?

This analysis recommends ways the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) and its centers, specifically the Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC) and the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC), can provide better-quality information to component staffs so they can be aware of global resource capabilities and risks, ultimately paving the way for these relatively new organizations to adapt and better support the warfighter. With years of research and several reports already written describing an overall vision (which much of Air Force leadership supports) and a range of actions available (or necessary) to achieve it, the next logical step seemed to be to focus very concretely on near-term actions each center could take. The authors compare the current state of AFMC capability management, including the organization construct currently in place, with RAND Project AIR FORCE (PAF) concepts developed over the past 20 years defining a combat support enterprise. They then identify gaps between processes, tools, systems, and doctrine in place and being used now in these organizations and the processes, tools, systems, and doctrine recommended in the previous PAF work and recommend near- and longer-term implementation actions to address the gaps.

Key Findings

Comparing As-Is Roles and Responsibilities to the PAF Vision of Combat Support Enterprise Capabilities Revealed the Following

  • The present AFSC and AFIMSC organizational structure can support global management processes supporting the warfighter.
  • Global management of combat support capabilities is still divided among and between organizations.
  • Vertical processes (within functional communities) for global management of combat support resources are in varying stages of development, with some almost complete and others requiring enhancement.
  • Within any particular stovepiped functional area, the community appears to work from a common understanding of what is needed to accomplish the mission.
  • Integration of horizontal (across stovepipes) and vertical (within stovepipes) processes still needs improvement to provide senior leaders with better visibilities into global combat support capabilities and constraints.
  • Identified characteristics of successful global managers include (1) an established relationship with the warfighter, (2) an analysis cell to conduct global assessments of capabilities and constraints, (3) rule-based decision-support tools, and (4) standard processes that are well understood by the warfighter.

Gaps Exist Between the Current Processes and Those Outlined in the PAF Vision

  • Neither AFSC nor AFIMSC has a clear vision for global capability management across and among its stovepiped functions.
  • Processes, instructions or guidance, and decision-support tools vary across functions and within each center.
  • Individual functional analyses are not integrated to provide capability analyses.


  • Near-term AFSC recommendations include developing a unifying vision and strategy for the value of global enterprise management and how AFSC intends to implement global management processes to support the warfighter; developing a communication plan to educate personnel; improving communication within and among AFMC centers so all centers are using the same warfighter requirements and assumptions to support global management processes and analyses are shared within and across AFMC centers; and designating one place for warfighter requirements to enter AFMC.
  • Mid-term AFSC recommendations include documenting global management processes in tactics, techniques, and procedures and policy.
  • Long-term AFSC recommendations include assigning responsibility and authority for integrated enterprise management processes to a single organization within AFSC.
  • Near-term AFIMSC recommendations include developing an internal, unifying vision and strategy so all AFIMSC personnel understand the AFIMSC purpose and capabilities and how it can best support its external customers; developing an external strategy and vision articulating the type of support AFIMSC will provide to the warfighter; developing plans to communicate internal and external strategies and vision; and designating one place for warfighter requirements to enter AFMC.
  • Mid-term AFIMSC recommendations include reviewing and refining the capabilities library contained in Appendix II of Program Action Directive 14-04; standardizing how the installation and mission support (I&MS) workload is divided; and codifying I&MS global management processes and responsibilities in policy and tactics, techniques, and procedures.
  • Long-term AFIMSC recommendations include assigning responsibility and authority for enterprise management processes to a single organization within headquarters AFIMSC.

Research conducted by

The research reported here was commissioned by the U.S. Air Force and conducted by the Resource Management Program within RAND Project AIR FORCE.

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