TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
It is evident that both service and excellence are a way of life for the new commander of Air Force Sustainment Center. Lt. Gen. Stacey Hawkins comes from a family with a tradition of service. Both of his parents are educators, and for 20 years his father was mayor of the town where Hawkins grew up. “I have translated the service that my parents demonstrated when I observed them as a kid to my own service to country,” he said. “Patriotism and the love of country is what I’ve devoted the prime of my adult life to, and I’m very proud to have done so.”
His assignment history is crowded with jobs reserved for top performers. He was a maintenance officer for the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, a U.S. Air Force Honor Guard Ceremonial Guardsman and served at the White House as special advisor for defense policy and intelligence programs for the vice president of the United States. He also directed logistics, installation support, force protection and nuclear integration activities in three Air Force major commands.
Perhaps it is this diversity of experience that inspires the general to take a nontraditional approach to foundational ideas, like Art of the Possible. “I actually have an inside-out approach to how I articulate it and how I internalize it, starting with common goals,” Hawkins said, “really looking at how we horizontally and vertically strive to define and map those common goals together with our enterprise partners, both within the Department of Defense, and with our industry partners.”
As a previous commander of AFSC’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex, Hawkins is quite familiar with AoP. “It’s not a framework. It’s not a fad,” he stressed. “We’ve actually been using Art of the Possible as the center of our mission culture for a whole decade.” Hawkins says the outer ring of the AoP leadership model typically doesn’t get much attention, but it should. “The culture that we need to focus on nurturing every day is defined by the attributes that you see in that outer ring – teamwork, accountability, respect, transparency, credibility and engagement.”
Those values, which are built on the ideas of serving and respecting others, Hawkins said, allow AFSC to maintain an environment that can meet the demands of the warfighters.
“We need to nurture a culture where every single one of our teammates can wake up in the morning, come to work every day, and have confidence that the environment that they’re working in will ensure they are able to return home at night safely to be with their families.”
The Airmen of AFSC are the general’s number one priority. “We really need to focus on developing and taking care of the people we have on our team today and also attracting the next generation of teammates who will take us into the 21st century and beyond,” he said.
Other priorities include taking care of the mission and preparing AFSC for the future. “Cost-effective readiness is part of that second priority,” Hawkins said. “We will have to do that by meeting the demands of our warfighters around the world, but we’ll also have to continue to serve as diligent stewards of the taxpayer dollars that we receive.
“As we enter into an era of strategic competition, preparing and enhancing our capability to meet the needs of the future is something we always will have to be mindful of,” Hawkins said.
With technology advancing at a rapid pace, Hawkins feels the nature of war is changing.
“The nation that is able to innovate and infuse technology the fastest will prevail. How we sustain weapon systems, how we build redundancy into our supply chains, how we partner with industry partners to develop software and various other capabilities … we’ll have to keep all of those going strong at once.”
Today’s sustainment landscape presents its share of challenges, such as parts obsolescence for legacy weapon systems, supply chain considerations and funding concerns, but “what those challenges also present is an environment for many opportunities,” Hawkins said.
Teaming with industry partners both within and outside of DoD; expanding the use of artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing; and implementing increasingly agile software development methodologies are just a few of those opportunities.
“Lastly, our ability to collect, synthesize, aggregate, and use data to inform decision-making across the sustainment enterprise will allow us to achieve the speed that is necessary to prevail.
“There’s a saying – never lose the opportunity to take advantage of a crisis. I wouldn’t call where we are a true crisis, but with the array of challenges we are facing today, it does present an opportunity for us to innovate in ways which we have never done so before,” he said.
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