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NEWS | March 6, 2013

437th AMXS Airman earns green belt, enables AF to save

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

When people hear the term "green belt," it's common to think of martial arts. However, a 437th Airlift Wing master sergeant didn't break any boards to obtain his green belt qualification. In fact, the qualification itself has nothing to do with karate.

Master Sgt. Gregory Butler, 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Air Force Special Operations of the 21st Century program manager, continues improving mission capabilities after being recognized as a qualified AFSO21 Green Belt Facilitator March 5, 2013, at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, S.C.

As a qualified green belt, Butler has a skilled understanding on where costs can be cut, processes streamlined and his squadron's service improved. He is also able to organize and manage teams when needed as a facilitator and oversee the process.

Before obtaining his AFSO21 Green Belt Facilitator Qualification, Butler completed a series of requirements designed to ensure the most qualified individuals are properly trained and are able to facilitate any event properly.

The first requirement was completion of Lean Awareness training, creating a solid foundation for Lean Processes, which help individuals understand the overall impact of how to improve a business. The course is taught within the civilian sector and has been adopted by the Department of Defense.

After grasping a solid understanding of Lean Processes, Butler became a certified Lean Awareness instructor, mastering the ability to competently provide training during an improvement initiative.

Other requirements include a five-day training course over green belt facilitating, observing an improvement initiative facilitated by an AFSO21 Green or Black Belt qualified facilitator, followed by co-facilitating with a qualified individual. The final step is facilitating a situation without assistance from a co-facilitator and being evaluated by an AFSO21 Black Belt qualified facilitator.
AFSO21 focuses on generating efficiencies and improving combat capability across the Air Force. In addition, it is applied to every process associated with the Air Force mission, from the flight line to mission support.

The program is organized and governed by AFSO21 facilitators, like Butler, and the improvement techniques' primary goal is to significantly increase combat capabilities, generate savings and maintain safety. The capabilities enable Airmen to change their day-to-day operating style to integrate continuous improvement into the full spectrum of the Air Force operations.

According to Butler, even good processes can be made better and some of the most innovative ideas come from the youngest Airmen.
"Airmen enter the military with fresh ideas," said Butler. "Their ability to find solutions to problems has been proven. My job is to take their ideas, manage teams and implement the ideas."
AFSO21 has five primary goals that contribute toward improving the Air Force. Airmen generating ideas should know the goals when generating efficiency and money saving ideas. The AFSO21 Five Desired Effects include:
1. Increase productivity of our people - doing more of the right things with the same or less effort
2. Increase critical equipment availability rates - all assets available at a greater rate from aircraft, to information technology, to range space, etc.
3. Improve response time and agility - quicker response time to the warfighter
4. Sustain safe and reliable operations - reduce injury rates, increase safety and safe use of material assets
5. Improve energy efficiency - make energy conservation a consideration in everything we do

"The smallest idea, from the youngest Airmen can still make the biggest impact across the Air Force," said Butler. "Airmen with innovative ideas should bring them to their leadership's attention, eliminating aspects of Airmen's jobs they don't have to do will help gain process efficiencies with fewer resources and increase our mission effectiveness."