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Supporting Space Force mission readiness during COVID-19

Stephen Kuper

The US Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center (AFIMSC) is leading the effort to keep installations mission ready as the Air and Space Force continue operations while contending with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporting Space Force mission readiness during COVID-19
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As the US Department of Defense rolled out its response to COVID-19, AFIMSC energised its primary subordinate units and detachments to support commanders and installations across the Air and Space Force with guidance, funding solutions and expertise to resolve issues.

AFIMSC Commander Major General Tom Wilcox explained, “We have 77 installations, eight major commands, two direct reporting units, headquarters of the Air Force and Space Force, including personnel in the Pacific, Europe and Middle East conducting missions who rely on us every day.”

“We're still performing our mission 100 percent. Our mission hasn't stopped or been reduced at all. I would say, in fact, the mission has increased. We’ve had to respond to this in a different way, and our Airmen have to come up with innovative and creative ways to ensure the mission goes on.”

For example, the AFIMSC budgeting team that manages the $7 billion installation and mission support portfolio worked a nearly $2 billion funding request for COVID-19-related costs and potential infrastructure stimulus support, said Lieutenant Colonel Laurie Lanpher of the Resources Directorate.

“The first part of the request covered costs associated with installations’ COVID-19 response and the other part asked for a list of unfunded requirements, that if funded, could help stimulate the economy,” Lt Col Lanpher said.

The day-to-day mission in AFIMSC’s Financial Operations Division remains largely unchanged; however, the volume and scope has increased tremendously, according to Kurt Schmidbauer, financial operations supervisor. The division co-ordinates, interprets and distributes travel, military and civilian pay, and banking and disbursing guidance on behalf of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller.

The Air Force Installation Contracting Center, one of AFIMSC’s primary subordinate units, immediately engaged all commands to ensure they had the latest operational acquisition and contracting guidance.

AFICC Commander Brigadier General Alice Trevino said, “We made it possible for contracting officers to have emergency acquisition authorities at their disposal to meet mission needs, while also taking measures to protect our workforce. These special authorities include, but are not limited to, increases in the micro-purchase and simplified acquisition thresholds, exceptions to full and open competition due to unusual and compelling urgency, and exceptions to administrative requirements.”

Installation Support Directorate leadership also began using the Defense Collaboration Services platform to conduct COVID-19 teleconferences with mission support group leaders across the force. The four sessions to date provided current installation and mission support portfolio information with experts on hand to answer questions, discuss solutions and offer AFIMSC support.

Across the AFIMSC enterprise, the team is modifying, adapting and ensuring installations have everything they need to keep the Air and Space Force mission ready.

Maj Gen Wilcox added, “We are figuring out how to do this. AFIMSC Airmen are staying ahead of installation needs and successfully navigating around the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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