HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The personnel from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Detachment 12, Kessel Run, take innovative approaches to their work. That carried over to the organization’s change of command April 15 when the ceremony took place via Zoom due to COVID-19 concerns.
Lt. Gen. Robert McMurry, AFLCMC commander, officiated the virtual ceremony from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, with Col. Enrique Oti, departing Det. 12 commander, and Col. Brian Beachkofski, incoming commander, in the Boston area, while attendees viewed from throughout the United States and even overseas.
McMurry highlighted some of the work the team does, from Air Operations Center modernization, wing operations, data operations, modeling and simulation, and targeting and geospatial intelligence, saying the additional missions have come about because of the success of Oti and the team.
He mentioned he first saw the “seedling” of what was to become the organization when he visited the Defense Innovation Unit in Boston, with four people including Oti sitting around with laptops looking to see what could be done in an agile software development activity.
“It was impressive,” McMurry said, although noting that it was hindsight. “At the time it was just an exploration, a seedling of what could and should be for the Air Force. It grew, and it grew fast. Now we have over 1,200 people setting the pace for Air Force software development.”
The center commander also noted that he has taken to heart what Oti says about the organization.
“This is not just an AOC pathfinder program, it’s a combat capability – a warfighting capability for the Air Force that is focused on being fast at decisions and fast at fielding software capabilities to provide operational units better capability today than they had yesterday.”
Speaking directly to the Kessel Run team, Oti noted that it was “an absolute honor” to be their commander, while saying it wasn’t without challenges, especially scaling up the organization.
“You should be unbelievably proud of what you have accomplished,” he said “Most importantly, you have delivered capability to the warfighter.”
Noting that he was not an acquisitions officer by background, Oti said the KR team “changed acquisitions” to the point where personnel from the Defense Department now turn to the Det. 12 business operations team when they need help understanding the new way of doing business.
“We’ve changed the Air Force,” Oti said. “I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve made that cultural change, and in a relatively timely manner. Every one of you should be very proud of what you’ve done.”
Saying the hard work is not over, he asked the team not to accept mediocrity, and to continue the “spirit and passion of revolution” of Kessel Run.
“The drive to continually be better is what made the Air Force what it is,” Oti said.
McMurry said that another impressive leader comes to the Det. 12 team with Beachkofski, noting his academic record and varied assignments.
Talking about accountability, McMurry said that he was referring to means of operation, mutual support, teamwork, precision, and quality and excellence.
“This is already in place at Kessel Run and we want to continue the legacy of meeting commitments on time, providing better cost performance than expected and delighting operational users with the products we bring,” he said. “Kessel Run is already a great team doing just that and I’m 100 percent certain you will get even better under the leadership of Col Beachkofski.”
Beachkofski noted that one of the Kessel Run values is continuous evolution and a change of command provides that as well.
“I’m a firm believer that different experiences and perspectives make an organization stronger and better,” he said.
“The team that we have couldn’t be better; the mission we have couldn’t be more important; the speed of the world today is so fast and moving so quickly we need to be able to adapt. That’s why we have Kessel Run, and that’s what we bring to the fight,” Beachkofski said. “I am so excited to see where this goes.”
Following the ceremony, rather than a reception, Beachkofski held an ‘Ask Me Anything’ session, which covered personal topics, from favorite books and television shows to the culture at Kessel Run and what he sees for the organization’s future.