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AFSO21 contributes to faster overseas processing

  • Published
  • By Dennis Marquardt
  • 82nd Medical Group
Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century is more than just a rehash of total quality management, or previous quality initiatives within the Air Force. 

AFSO21 is not merely a program or a tool. Rather, a culture and an environment where everyone has a stake (and a voice) in promoting improvement, eliminating waste and redundancy, maximizing efficiency and conserving our valuable resources of time, manpower and money. 

The following is just one example of what can be accomplished when the various tools available under the AFSO21 umbrella are applied. 


The overseas clearance process was broken. Airmen in Training would wander over to the medical group randomly throughout the week requesting medical clearance for overseas assignments. The staff in the student health center would have to stop what they were doing, review the medical records and arrange appointments for medical, dental, mental health screening, as well as arrange for any required immunizations. This frequently required multiple return trips to the MDG. 

Military training leaders and instructors were concerned because AiTs were missing valuable class time, and the AiTs were frustrated because they had to make repeated trips to the MDG to get their medical overseas clearances processed. The MDG staff was frustrated because the process was inefficient and required significant investments of manpower and time. 


Everyone was in agreement that something had to be done, but what and how? Enter AFSO21. 

A multi-disciplinary team was composed of MTLs, squadron commanders, medics, personnel specialists, instructors, and those that worked with students in training, students awaiting training and students out of training data. By mapping out the old process, the team was able to identify gaps in performance, drill down to the root causes and develop countermeasures. 

A new process was developed, and implemented on a small scale, to validate the effectiveness of the corrective actions. It very quickly became evident that this was a home run, and rapidly expanded to the current process. 

Now, instead of AiTs randomly wandering over to the MDG, there is a standardized time dedicated to overseas clearance. All required MDG members are assembled every Thursday afternoon and set up screening stations; AiTs go to the stations to have their records screened by the required departments, and receive or start required immunizations, all in one convenient stop. 

The target goal was to have 65-75 percent of the AiTs cleared in one afternoon instead of needing multiple return trips to the MDG. The result was 90-95 percent cleared in one stop. The results have remained consistent in this range for almost one year now, and is a home run for the wing in that students are happy, MTLs and instructors are content because the AiTs are not missing as much class time, and the MDG is satisfied with the significant increase in efficiency and resource utilization. 


My personal experience is that AFSO21 is not rocket science. In the example presented, everyone was aware of the problem and frustration, but the process remained broken. It wasn't until a team of share holders was formed and actually sat down and mapped out the process that change occurred. By identifying some targets for improvement, implementing the corrective actions and validating them, we were able to bring about the kind of results everyone was hoping for. 

Everyone had a stake in this process, everyone had a voice, and everyone won. Take a look at your too might be surprised at what you can accomplish by keeping an open mind and applying some sound AFSO21 principles.