Maj. Gen. Alice W. Treviño serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Contracting, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics. She is responsible for all aspects of contracting relating to the acquisition of weapon systems, logistics, operational and enterprise efforts for the Air Force, and provides contingency contracting support to the geographic combatant commanders. She leads a highly skilled staff to deliver $825 billion in Space, Air Superiority, Global Strike, Global Mobility and Information Dominance platforms. Additionally, she oversees the training, organizing and equipping of 8,000 contracting professionals who execute programs worth more than $65 billion annually.
Treviño received her commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1993 and is a joint qualified officer with extensive deployment experience in support of combat, humanitarian and peacekeeping/enforcement operations to Croatia, Turkey, Oman, Kuwait and Afghanistan. Prior to her current assignment, she was the Commander of the Air Force Installation Contracting Center. She has also served as the Deputy Secretary of Defense’s Principal Military Assistant; unlimited dollar warranted procuring Contracting Officer for major defense programs; and the Senior Contracting Official-Afghanistan for U.S. Central Command. She has commanded two Air Force units at the squadron level, joint units at the group and wing levels, and an Air Force unit at the wing level.
Even though my time at Naval Postgraduate School occurred over 15 years ago, it feels like just yesterday. Earning a Logistics MBA offered the opportunity to augment my contracting and acquisitions background with defense transportation, supply chain management and materiel specialization. Upon graduation, I’ve been able to leverage these skillsets in every position that’s followed, including with the US Transportation Command where we initiated the Northern Distribution Network to improve supply routes into Afghanistan; with the US Central Command Deployment and Distribution Operations Center where we made inter- and intra-theater movement recommendations and multi-modal decisions in the Area of Responsibility; and even most recently while serving as the Department of the Air Force COVID-19 Task Force Director where we continue to solve supply chain, personal protective equipment and other security challenges supporting Department of Health and Human Services’ Industrial Base Expansion efforts for our Nation.
NPS made a huge impact on helping me understand the linkages between acquisition and logistics in today’s dynamic environment—how across the Department of Defense, collaborating with multiple stakeholders, functionals, industry and joint Mission Partners allows us to see the bigger picture, take advantage of successes while avoiding repeated mistakes and strategically think through pros, cons, opportunities and risks. Experimenting, keeping an open mind and challenging assumptions at NPS equipped me to demand more data-driven decisions, consider unintended consequences before acting and create/offer viable Courses of Action for Senior Acquisition Leaders that preserve decision space.
Our communications with industry, academia and end users/operators are key to ensuring we stay on top of trends, commercial practices/advances and the latest groundbreaking technologies. Through continuous engagement, industry days and market research we collect invaluable feedback that helps us identify, develop and refine our statements of need, requirements and acquisition solutions to deliver combat capability for the Warfighter—today and tomorrow!
Industry invests in research and development, production and manufacturing capacity, sustainment/product support and commercial capability. These investments promote economic stability, help deliver combat advantage, result in the creation of dual use technology for defense applications and ensure Warfighters have the weapons systems, goods and services needed to deter and defeat our adversaries—which all collectively bolster our national security.
One of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics’ priorities is to accelerate technology maturation and demonstration through prototyping and experimentation. By reducing risk and informing concept development, Honorable Andrew Hunter’s focus in this area is allowing the Air Force to take advantage of innovations from the commercial realm, defense industry and academia. Partnering with industry, academia and the Warfighter (operators and end users) helps us better understand our capability gaps, so that we can close them. It also helps inform acquisition solutions, timelines and ultimately our requirements.
When operators, researchers and industry work side-by-side communication improves and we have more effective outcomes, especially as it relates to acquisition and execution. When we understand each other’s challenges, constraints or obstacles and have ongoing (versus ad-hoc) relationships, we can simplify how we prepare for the future. Cultivating this type of environment at NPS can help us know earlier about new or cutting-edge technology with the potential to deliver strategic advantage against our adversaries and ensure we get combat capability into the hands of our Warfighters faster.
Valuable connections like those the ARP fosters bring research, innovators and acquisition professionals together. By appreciating what we all may be going through from other perspectives, we can break down barriers and challenge ourselves to think differently about complex problems. When we commit to continuous and proactive engagement, we can also obtain feedback, examine lessons learned, test hypotheses in a safe environment and devise shared solutions to benefit our Warfighters.
Building stronger relationships between R&D and acquisition professionals is a win-win proposition to help overcome the “valley of death” – enhanced, more regular and frequent communications within these two communities are a great Return on Investment. Collaborating on emerging technology solutions that have the most promise of becoming Programs of Record is a value-added use of time and should be accomplished proactively to lower risk and bring R&D, Program Executive Officers and Senior Contracting Officials closer earlier.
When we can iterate and prototype new technology rapidly, we reduce risk, accelerate learning, fail faster and demonstrate needed capability quicker. To take advantage of these benefits, our acquisition and contracting processes should be flexible. Flexibility helps us reveal sooner when a technology we seek cannot be demonstrated “as written” or a requirement needs to be clarified, refined or adjusted. Additionally, up-to-date, skilled and empowered acquisition and contracting professionals are better able to navigate complicated processes, adapt to the changing environment, solicit timely feedback, receive responsive offers from industry, craft better incentives and develop more effective acquisition strategies to go after national security challenges and close our capability gaps.