New deputy PEO sees job operationally

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Enabling combat effectiveness requires a constant focus on cost, schedule and performance, according to the newly minted deputy program executive officer and deputy of the Battle Management Directorate here.

“It may feel like every assignment you have in this career field is different,” said Col. Ryan Mantz. “But really, every mission we have comes back to three crucial things: cost, schedule and performance. You see how important delivering capability is when you are deployed, or work with a unit that is a force provider.”

Mantz has been on the job for approximately two months, following nearly four years as a deputy PEO with U.S. Transportation Command and after more than 25 years in the acquisition career field. His leadership assignments include deputy commander of the 23rd Mission Support Group at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, and deputy commander of the 732nd Air Expeditionary Group, later 467th Air Expeditionary Group, supporting joint expeditionary tasked Airmen in Southwest Asia.

The JET concept, used throughout Central Command, assigns individual and small groups of Airmen directly to coalition forces, or in support of deployed units in other services.

“When you have an opportunity to really see how the Air Force is enabling success in the joint environment, not only for U.S. forces but for advising and assisting our allies, that’s really eye-opening,” said Mantz. “Here in Battle Management, we support capabilities that allow sortie planning and command and control of the battlespace, but what that means is that we enable the combined talents of our entire military, our allies and our friends, to be brought to bear. That’s quite the job, so it’s up to us to deliver that capability on time and on cost. We can’t lose sight of that day-to-day.”

Mantz met his wife, Becky, while she was attending the University of New Mexico, and they dated his last two years as a cadet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. They’ve been able to stay together as a family through every assignment, and their twin children are seniors at a local high school. Right now, they’re looking at colleges, including American University, Washington, D.C.; the College of William and Mary, Virginia; Texas A&M University, Texas; and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

This is the family’s second assignment to Hanscom. Mantz was previously chief of the Cyber Integration Branch in the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorate. 

“Really, I think it’s important for us to serve customers by delivering capability,” said Mantz. “We enable that by training acquirers to be able to go off and do great things. Every day in Battle Management we ask ourselves two questions: Are we executing extremely well and are we challenging the process to deliver capabilities to the warfighter?”

Software acquisition is a major C2 focus area for the directorate, according to Mantz. Seeing the Air Operations Center Pathfinder program as a sign of things to come, Mantz indicated the process by which the military acquires software is going through a sea-change, led by Hanscom programs.

“We’re thinking about what agile software development means, everything from buying the software factory, to using a different contract arrangements than we’ve traditionally used, but also how we budget, test and certify software for cybersecurity,” said Mantz. “It’s a different way for us to serve the customer, but we need to go there, as agile has shown that we can deliver operational software within weeks or within days or hours. What we’re doing with AOC is, I think very scalable. I think you’ll see this methodology more and more in other programs, and that will only have positive impacts, faster, for the customer downrange.”