NAVAL AIR SYSTEMS COMMAND, PATUXENT RIVER, Md.–Driving change relies on stakeholder engagement, communication, accountability and a shared goal. According to Kelly Corbin, recently named the 2021 Secretary of the Navy Product Support Manager (PSM) of the Year (Major Weapon System/Other Weapon Systems, ACAT II and below) for her accomplishments as the Advanced Tactical Aircraft Protection Systems Program Office (PMA-272) PSM.
The award recognizes PSM contributions to controlling cost within affordability caps, promoting industry competition and innovation, and implementing effective product support strategies. According to PMA-272 Program Manager, Col. Tamara Campbell, Corbin’s leadership and innovative abilities resulted in insightful sustainment processes directly improving fleet readiness across all phases of the life cycle for domestic and international partner programs during her three-year tenure. “She is an exceptional logistician who is the first to share her knowledge and experience on sound sustainment practices and how to improve upon our logistics support,” Campbell said.
Sustainment, the management of a weapon system’s resources to enable current and future readiness, is foundational to PMA-272’s mission of providing advanced aircraft survivability equipment (ASE) across naval aviation and in support of international partners, according to Corbin. “Sustainment is the hard working, dirt-under-your-nails, often overlooked pillar of acquisition,” she said. “ASE systems and capabilities, found across all platforms, assure pilots and aircrew come home safely and contribute meaningfully to warfighting success. Sustainment decisions made today, whether it’s establishing maintenance capability during acquisition or solving an emergent fleet degrader, affect real world outcomes of today’s and tomorrow’s warfighter.”
Recognized for enabling a high-performing organization through her commitment to a readiness-focused environment, Corbin said that Reliability Control Boards (RCB) provided the framework for her approach. RCB is a data-driven process that identifies root causes that affect fleet readiness, provides data that helps decision makers determine where best to apply resources, serves as a guide on the prioritization of resources, and measure the effectiveness of improvements executed by cross-functional teams.
“Leadership is about integrity, follow through and overcoming challenges,” she explained. “As the PSM, I was the process owner responsible for planning, development, maturation and execution of the RCBs in PMA-272. RCBs require logisticians to adopt a more data-driven decision-making model and engage deeply with new data visualization tools. They also collaborated with integrated product teams on a regular basis, applying a structured approach to the process of evaluating and resolving fleet degraders.”
As part of the RCB, Corbin established 19 degrader action cells focused on increasing ASE readiness and improving fully mission capable rates in support of 20 different programs, covering approximately 1,500 aircraft and 26 DoN type/model/series (TMS) aircraft. She automated and expanded the use of a visualization tool to create the program’s monthly Degrader One List — a list of components and maintenance processes that provides a holistic view on the health of ASE equipment and standardizes how degraders are identified, tracked and resolved. This improved visibility was instrumental in determining the proper funding allocation between Navy and Marine Corps methodologies, providing information to a cost-benefit analysis that secured $40 million in funding for organic, depot-level Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasure maintenance and repair capabilities and improving the readiness rates for several high-impact electronic warfare components.
Recognizing the need to gain better visibility into the status of ASE at the tactical level, Corbin spearheaded the Naval Air Systems Command Sustainment Team’s update of the Naval Aviation Maintenance Program Standard Operating Procedure (NAMP). The NAMP now requires the fleet and the ASE Readiness Team to inspect ASE and provides them with standardized criteria to conduct the inspections collaboratively.
Corbin credits her accomplishments to a knowledgeable and empowered workforce. “The team analyzed more than 26 degraders, improved fleet outcomes and served as a model for other non-TMS PMAs. Engagement and buy-in flow from communicating the vision, showing the value, asking people to trust the process and being accountable for results,” she explained. “The foundation of that willingness came from day-to-day communication and building relationships. It worked.”
Corbin plans to apply the lessons she learned in PMA-272 to her new position as the PSM in the Airborne Electronic Attack Program Office (PMA-234). “A new digital engineering framework is in development that offers decision makers increased transparency and greater speed for sustainment decisions during a weapons system’s early acquisition phase. I plan to be at the forefront of this transformation in PMA-234,” she said. “The future of sustainment in NAVAIR is exciting.”
As a team lead and a mentor, Corbin recognizes her responsibility to pass on her expertise to others. “The workforce that supports Naval Aviation is entrusted with a huge responsibility,” Corbin said. “Meeting that responsibility with creativity, knowledge, drive and resilience will assure both personal and mission success in the future. I encourage my team to take on difficult challenges, try new things and meet new people. This can include reading books, honing communication skills and engaging in activities that support a healthy work/life balance. Each task should be considered an opportunity to push themselves, network and learn.”
“I also tell them that they should not only find a mentor who is in senior leadership, but also connect with one or two of their peers in the organization who are looking to advance their careers,” she added. “Peer relationships are mutually beneficial. Cheer them on and let them cheer you on.”