News | Nov. 1, 2021

AFIMSC centralizes critical communication capability with standup of PMO

By Malcolm McClendon Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s Cyberspace Systems Support Branch took on a new mission that will make a positive impact on field communications when it became the Department of the Air Force’s Land Mobile Radio Product Management Office, Oct. 18.

The PMO will provide centralized management of the core LMR network and subscriber procurements for all Airmen and Guardians. Traditionally, management of the program was handled at the major command level. Through this initiative, the office aims to improve service and save the Air and Space Forces money and resources.

“By centralizing LMR oversight, we estimate more than $300 million in savings over the next 10 years,” said Don Lewis, Cyberspace Systems Branch chief. “The individual bases will continue to manage local site operations, but we will provide a single source for policy and technical support, PMO-level advocacy for requirements, standard levels of service, and strategic planning and lifecycle management.

“We’ll be a one-stop shop for LMR for the entire enterprise.”

Establishment of the office began in 2018 with a coordinated effort by AFIMSC’s Installation Support Directorate and the Air Force Installation Contracting Center.

“With the help of the Category Management Office at AFICC, we were able to assemble the Category Intelligence Report team to analyze the LMR infrastructure, subscriber procurements and sustainment requirements, costs, governance and conduct market research,” said Rich Lapierre, who served on the CIR team while working for Air Education and Training Command. He is now the new LMR PMO chief. “We then presented 10 recommendations to the Air Force Chief Information Officer in 2020, who approved them all.”

Later in 2020, the team proposed the Category Execution Plan, which laid out the recommendation to stand up the LMR PMO at AFIMSC. On Oct. 18 of this year, Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones signed the Program Guidance Letter to activate the office.

“This was an all-hands-on-deck effort here at AFIMSC,” said Col. Rick Brown, Cyberspace Support Division chief. “Our great partners in the AFICC Category Management Office did a phenomenal job facilitating the CIR and the CEP. We gathered the right subject matter experts to build a powerful business case.”

The PMO will serve as a model for other Base Operations Support IT commodities AFIMSC manages, Lewis added.

“We’re looking at this as a proof-of-concept for a better way to lifecycle manage all IT capabilities for our installations,” he said. “These include IT Infrastructure, which we are proposing to be the next category management study, but we also think we can help improve voice and unified capabilities service provision.”

Thanks to AFIMSC leadership’s willingness to lean forward and accept some risk, Lewis said the team achieved Initial Operational Capability “at birth.” They were able to establish over-hire positions and begin the hiring process to build the team, which allowed them to hit the ground running on day one of operations.

With half the team already in place, the PMO should be fully staffed by the end of the year. When it achieves Full Operational Capability, projected for December 2022, it will have assumed all DAF LMR management and oversight roles, including publishing new governance documentation on behalf of the Air Force CIO.

“With the team reaching IOC immediately, it puts us at least six months ahead of the game,” Brown said. “We’re always looking for better ways to support the Airmen and Guardians who get the job done on our installations.

“The real winners of this initiative are the users of land mobile radio capabilities: our first responders, our flight line operators, our maintainers, and everybody who needs that capability for day-to-day command and control and operational communications.”