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Retiring deputy of PEO Digital discusses AgileDevOps, future of directorate

Steven Wert, program executive office Digital, headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., presents Col. Ryan Mantz with the Legion of Merit during his retirement ceremony June 11. Mantz, who had served as the deputy program executive officer for Digital since August 2017, retired after 29 years of service.

Steven Wert, program executive office Digital, headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., presents Col. Ryan Mantz with the Legion of Merit during his retirement ceremony June 11. Mantz, who had served as the deputy program executive officer for Digital since August 2017, retired after 29 years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

Col. Ryan Mantz speaks during his retirement ceremony at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. June 11. Mantz, who had been serving as deputy program executive officer for Digital since Aug. 2017, retired after 29 years of service.

Col. Ryan Mantz speaks during his retirement ceremony at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. June 11. Mantz, who had been serving as deputy program executive officer for Digital since Aug. 2017, retired after 29 years of service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – Col. Ryan Mantz, who had been serving as deputy program executive officer for Digital, retired after 29 years of service in a ceremony here June 11.

Prior to his departure, Mantz reflected on his nearly three decades as an Air Force acquisition officer. He also discussed the future of the directorate, its transition to AgileDevOps, the challenges associated with digital acquisition, and his retirement plans.  

Mantz started by passing along some important advice to colleagues in the directorate.

“Keep focused on innovation and the warfighter,” he said. “In order to design and deliver all these exciting new capabilities, we need to maintain a customer-focused mindset and we need to leverage what’s going on in the commercial sector.”  

Mantz also spoke at length about the transition to AgileDevOps, which he said is currently underway in multiple divisions in the portfolio. He pointed to Detachment 12, also known as Kessel Run, as a great example.

“It’s been challenging to align everything that needs to happen programmatically for Kessel Run and AgileDevOps to be successful, but it’s been incredibly rewarding,” said Mantz. “Whether it’s fulfilling requirements, executing contracts, writing code or performing testing, we have really made some great improvements to how things were done in the past. But there’s still more work to be done.”

Mantz also discussed the challenges of digital acquisition and detailed the future of the directorate, which he believes is machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“We really need to understand A.I. and machine learning in order to instrument our software to do all the things that the commercial sector does so well,” he said. “We have to use data to do machine-to-machine interfaces and execute more A.I. functions in order to be successful in the future.”

During the retirement ceremony, Steven Wert, program executive officer Digital, highlighted Mantz’s wealth of experience in a number of key areas, like Foreign Military Sales, and how the effects of his leadership will positively impact the directorate for years to come.

Wert also commended Mantz’s efforts working with Air Mobility Command and U.S. Transportation Command in setting up a transition support plan for the transfer of responsibility, funding, and manpower associated with the 618th Air Operations Center.

“As a result of his efforts, we will soon stand up the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s first ever operating location at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois,” said Wert.

Following his retirement, Mantz plans to stay active by hiking and cycling through the Green Mountains of Vermont. The father of twins also plans to participate in the Vermont Gran Fondo ride in August. 

Mantz became deputy PEO beginning in August 2017. He previously spent 17 months at Hanscom as the chief of the Cyber Integration Branch in the Command, Control, Communications, Intelligence and Networks Directorate, also headquartered here.

During his career as an acquisition officer, Mantz has held leadership positions as deputy PEO at USTRANSCOM, 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.

Col. Riley Pyles, the former senior materiel leader for the Aerospace Management Systems Division, also headquartered here, has replaced Mantz as deputy PEO.