•  Carrier

The U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency (AFCESA) is transforming along with the rest of Air Force civil engineering (CE) to meet the needs of the 21st Century Air Force. This transformation may best be characterized as more “evolutionary” than “revolutionary” in nature.

As CE units undergo changes, AFCESA will continue to be organizationally aligned with them as much as possible, especially with base level customers, to facilitate communications and make it easy for customers to find the corresponding technical expertise and execution support they need within AFCESA. Readiness and infrastructure expertise, engineering information technology (IT) program management, and specialized field and project execution support will continue to be mainstays of the services we provide. Of our many business lines, Energy, with a capital “E,” will rise in prominence as we help orchestrate our service’s facility energy efforts. But we also will shift the business paradigm of AFCESA and seek out opportunities to better serve our base and command customers. And, we will lead as many efforts and initiatives for our community, as our human capacity permits.

Strengthening Readiness Efforts
In the Readiness arena, activity continues at full speed. We continue to push improvements in combat training, make adjustments in our force structure, and look for smarter, leaner ways to equip our troops. Air Force civil engineers continue to support the Global War on Terrorism by deploying 2,300 airmen throughout Southwest Asia. Today, 38 percent of our personnel deployed support joint missions and this number is growing. These airmen are filling ground combat support roles far outside of traditional Air Force roles and missions. As such, they receive added ground combat skills training at U.S. Army mobilizations training centers. AFCESA continues to work to improve this training by reducing non-training time, eliminating tasks already taught at home station and ensuring the training is in line with end mission needs.

In the next few months, we are implementing, across the Air Force, a new CE mobility force structure (known as Unit Type Code or UTC). This will form a more modular, “building block” structure that will allow us to better tailor forces to a particular mission. We are also in the midst of a “bottoms up” review of our wartime and contingency Reserve and Guard staff augmentation requirements to ensure these forces are properly postured and available. And we are orchestrating the Air Force implementation of the National Incident Management System, leading all federal agencies to the December 2007 finish line.

Increasing Support

Explosive Ordnance Disposal. While much of the Air Force is down-sizing, our Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) team will grow over the next three years, increasing 12 percent or 159 personnel. AFCESA’s EOD Division championed a new standard flight organizational structure. The Division also succeeded in developing, testing and fielding a new $30-million communications system for EOD forces from all the services deployed in Southwest Asia—in 12 months. These new communications kits, offering a suite of non-secure and secure phone, internet, VTC and additional capability, will be fully fielded by the end of June 2007.

Information Technology (IT). AFCESA manages the CE career field’s IT requirements. A main focal point of that is implementing the Executive Branch’s Real Property Inventory Requirements initiative, which establishes a common real property inventory for all federal property. The implementation schedule is aggressive, and both the development of the supporting software and population of the database have been challenging. Simultaneously, we continue to operate, update and upgrade our Automated Civil Engineering System, while preparing to tackle the next generation IT system to support our transformed processes.

Infrastructure. AFCESA has always had a small corps of master craftsmen that provide specialized field support for difficult-to-diagnose infrastructure issues. Known as the Civil Engineering Maintenance, Inspection and Repair Team, it has long been an invaluable resource for our base-level customers for electrical, mechanical, aircraft arresting systems and power production support. We will maintain this capability and even expand our small mechanical support element to enhance their already extensive range of services by robusting their ability to recommission mechanical systems in existing facilities, a service we believe will be in high demand. A recent decision to move us from being centrally funded by the Air Staff, to becoming customer-funded actually removes a barrier that was limiting the service we could provide and allows us to expand and contract our team with contract augmentation as customer workload demands.   

Sustainment, Restoration and Maintenance Our sustainment, restoration and maintenance project execution capability continues to mature from its inception in 2005. As home of the Air Force’s infrastructure experts in paving, roofing, electrical and mechanical systems, AFCESA taps into these world-renowned authorities to ensure customer’s projects are well-defined and matched to the best technology. With our current number of contracting personnel, we have the capacity to execute about 215 new projects a year worth about $200 to $300 million. With Air Staff assistance, we are exploring means to secure or access additional contracting capacity to further the support we can provide our base and major command customers.  We also “own” the Air Force Contract Augmentation Program (AFCAP) tool, with six “Grade A” contractors with world-wide reach to provide emergency construction, logistics and services. With $10 billion in capacity, this contract remains spring-loaded to support warfighter needs or the next natural disaster.

Re-examining Fire Protection
The Air Force is undergoing the largest re-examination of the way we perform fire protection since the service’s inception. And it was time. The Air Force has made huge strides over the last 25 years in improving its fire safety posture. We have seen the demolition of untold thousands of WWII-vintage, highly combustible, wood frame structures. We have improved our fire safety posture significantly by constructing solid structures with fire-resistant materials, and installing sprinkler systems and fire detection systems tied to the installation’s central alarm. On the flightline, we have switched from highly volatile JP-4 to the significantly less volatile JP-8. The effect of these efforts has been to greatly diminish our vulnerability to major fire loss.

In light of these changes, the Air Force is going to take a slight risk and reduce the size of our fire protection team, but in a manner that allows us to continue to meet Department of Defense response criteria. At the same time, we’ll be pushing to improve our fire team’s overall responsive posture by driving down unnecessary activities to ensure fire fighters are properly positioned, equipped and trained. AFCESA will monitor this journey and seek out and solve the unanticipated issues that arise.

Reducing Energy Costs
And finally, I return to Energy. Energy is “huge” in today’s Air Force. The first week of May, we hosted the Air Force Facility Energy workshop with 40 experts from AFCESA, our major commands, Air Staff, Air Force Center for Engineering and Environment, the Department of Energy, and more. That group built the “strawman” Air Force Facility Energy 10-year plan outlining the best opportunities and associated investments to meet the President’s ambitious January 2007 executive order. The investment we need is enormous, ranging between $1to $2 billion, but the payment is enormous.

The Air Force’s bill for facility energy hit a record $1.2 billion in 2006, despite an overall 9 percent reduction in energy consumption from 2003. Under AFCESA’s transformation effort, we established the Air Force Facility Energy Center in January 2007. Although initially staffed by a combination of the personnel and power of our existing energy experts, Utilities Rate Management Team, and Utilities Privatization Support Team, in 2008 we’ll start adding expertise and resources to further lead Air Force facility energy efforts. In an effort to provide consistent service and oversight, we plan to offer an Air Force-wide energy savings performance contract (ESPC) service to replace the six regional Air Force contracts put in place in the 1990s. Over the last 10 years, these regional ESPCs have enabled us to fund about $600 million in energy avoidance projects out of utility savings.

As Air Force CE—and the Air Force as a whole—transforms for the future, AFCESA will evolve alongside them, step by step. Our mission stays the same: We’ll continue provide our customers the outstanding technical expertise and execution support they expect and rely on from AFCESA. It is an honor to lead such a dedicated group of civil engineers into the future.

Col. Richard A. Fryer, Jr., is the Commander, Headquarters Air Force Civil Engineer Support Agency (AFCESA), Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. He can be reached through AFCESA's Reachback Center at 850-283-6995, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.