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'Highly qualified expert' joins USTRANSCOM staff

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - A new highly qualified expert has joined U.S. Transportation Command staff. Rick Poff, a retired Air Force colonel, is not only an expert in the transportation industry, he is by title and experience an actual, Department of Defense-designated "highly qualified expert."

The unique Senior Executive Service-level-positions were created in 2004 to provide the DOD with the ability to attract eminent experts with state-of-the-art knowledge in fields of critical importance to military operations.

Anyone can call himself an expert, but Poff's career affirms his qualifications for this big job at USTRANSCOM.

He was originally assigned to Norton Air Force Base, Calif., in 1971 as a C-141 pilot. When he was reassigned to the 322nd Airlift Division in 1983, Poff said he helped form the European Command Center. "I then went to the Air Command Staff School, where I was a distinguished graduate," he said. "Then to Scott Air Force Base where I originally set up the command center for the C9s. I helped revamp the evac system."

Poff then transferred to the Military Airlift Command (now Air Mobility Command) where he worked on the command and control system. "From there I took over (as) the head of all requirements of AMC, and I also was able to help form TRANSCOM. I was the lead, appointed by General Cassidy, of the concept team that spelled out what GTN (Global Transportation Network) should do."

Once Poff retired from the military in 1990, he joined Encompass, a joint venture of American Airlines and CSX. "I was chief operating officer (of Encompass), and their job was to develop supply chain visibility," Poff said. "When TRANSCOM let the contract for GTN, we won (the contract) and implemented it."

The next phase of his career brought Poff to Federal Express where he became the global vice president for the Enterprise Information Systems. "And that's where I constructed Fusion," Poff said. "Fusion was a big program to integrate all the operating companies of Federal Express together, using a service-oriented architecture.

"Fusion's purpose was to move together all the operating companies of Federal Express, their express, ground and freight, just like TRANSCOM is trying to do," Poff continued. "So, the Fusion program did that. It was a high level, key program that used a service-pointed architecture, or message bus enterprise, that allowed us to integrate various components of Federal Express, and it runs 6000 transactions a second."

From FedEx, Poff moved to Lockeed Martin where he was the program manager for joint command and control.

"And now I'm here," Poff said. "My job will focus on command and control within supply chain management. My experience from industry and my military experience will help put it all together."

Poff will work directly for USTRANSCOM Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. William Johnson, who recruited him for the HQE position.

"USTRANSCOM decided they needed a highly qualified expert," Poff said. "My name came up as the person who has done this and was an award winner at Federal Express. USTRANCOM views an industry leader like Federal Express as a good example of idyllic command and control programs, so with the combination of my civilian and military experience, I became a good fit for this organization."

Johnson believes Poff will be great addition to the USTRANSCOM team.

"He has a unique background of extensive military experience coupled with recent corporate IT experience with such companies as FedEx, CSX and Lockheed Martin," Johnson said. "He is uniquely qualified to provide the command capability that we could only get from outside the government. Mr. Poff's talents will be of great use in delivering the Corporate Services Vision and creating AT21 capabilities as soon as possible."

Corporate Service Vision is the enterprise vision, the infrastructure, that forms the foundation for the way forward of the deployment distribution process. The AT21 program focuses on identifying, exploring and applying best commercial business practices and supporting information technology tools to improve the planning and managing of distribution and deployment assets in support of the combatant commander

Retired Air Force Col. Craig Koontz, a USTRANSCOM contractor, worked with Poff in the early days of his military career. "Rick is no stranger to the mobility business," Koontz said. Our paths crossed numerous times when we were stationed here at Scott. Rick is a guy who combines being exceptionally smart with mobility 'street sense.' When I heard he was coming to USTRANSCOM, my immediate reaction was that he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, both in the mobility business as well as commercial industry to the USTRANSCOM team.

With his credentials, Poff could work in many areas of the civilian corporate world, but he chose to return to serve his country.

"I came here to do a mission," Poff said. "I came here to do a job that's important, to see if I can make a difference."

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