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Delivering hope one order at a time

A C-130 Hercules equipped with a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System supports fire suppression efforts near Colorado Springs, Colo., June 27, 2012. Four MAFFS-equipped aircraft, two from the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing and two from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing, flew in support of the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires in Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Stephany D. Richards)

A C-130 Hercules equipped with a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System supports fire suppression efforts near Colorado Springs, Colo., June 27, 2012. Four MAFFS-equipped aircraft, two from the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing and two from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing, flew in support of the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires in Colorado. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Stephany D. Richards)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Firefighters struggle to stop a relentless wildfire at the edge of Colorado Springs, where more than 32,000 people are being forced from their homes. Speculation is rampant that the raging fire will engulf the city, leaving destruction in its path.

At this critical point, the National Interagency Fire Center makes a call requesting military help to battle the Colorado wildfires. A short time later, total force aircrews launch four C-130 Hercules aircraft, each loaded with 3,000 gallons of fire retardant, delivering hope to the people of Colorado.

Rapid responses to crises like this wouldn't be possible without the efforts of Airmen at the 18th Air Force Orders section here. The mission of these four Airmen is to manage contingency response mission support orders across the globe.

"In an unstable and unpredictable world, those in need can be reassured knowing that mobility forces are ready," said Lt. Col. Peter Tschohl, 18th Air Force Director of Operations. "Whether it's an aircraft in need of fuel to complete its mission or a natural disaster victim in need of life sustaining supplies, they are there to answer the call."


Recently, these Airmen conducted an Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century, or AFSO21 event. AFSO21 is the Air Force's dedicated effort to maximize value and minimize waste in processes.

Prior to the event, the orders section spent a great deal of time tracking down points of contact and sifting through documents, which was time consuming. In addition, there were no standard processes to involve stakeholders in the orders creation process. With the support of the command leaders, the AFSO21 event helped change that.

"Having facilitated enterprise events in the past, I knew that 18th Air Force leadership fosters an organizational climate conducive to change," said Master Sgt. David Noel, 18th Air Force Orders section.

A 10-member total force team, made up of civilian, Reserve and active duty personnel, collaborated and discussed ideas over a four-day period.

"Now we have a process that allows for collaboration and some much needed transparency to provide our units with the actionable knowledge they need," said Noel.

As a result, the section now uses more efficient technological solutions to involve participants and track the progress of orders.

"We have reduced the orders process from what used to take weeks to now days," said Noel. "Our new process has reduced duplication of effort and streamlined the way we do business."

The process has allowed orders to be published faster, giving time back to Airmen, and greater continuity in the process, providing more efficient support to customers.