The Tanker Emergency Room:

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.)—chair of the House Armed Services Projection Forces Subcommittee—asked last week how aging tankers showing signs of heavy wear and tear can make it through depot maintenance so much faster these days. The answer is simple: The depots used commercial process improvements, cutting flow days in half over the past five years, said Lt. Gen. Don Wetekam, the Air Staff’s logistics chief. In effect, he said, depots are doing twice the work per day. Lt. Gen. Donald Hoffmann, the Air Force’s military acquisition deputy, offered the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center explanation: “The hospital and the hospital staff are getting better and better all the time, but the patients still come in sicker and sicker.” Bartlett conceded that was a good analogy.