Air Force officials observe National Small Business Week Published April 29, 2008 Air Force News Agency SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) -- SAN ANTONIO (AFPN) -- Small businesses support the full spectrum of Air Force operations that helps Airmen fly and fight in air, space and cyberspace, and Air Force officials are observing National Small Business Week that runs April 21 through 25. Small businesses deliver in a big way in innovation and technology to help the Air Force remain flexible, agile and responsive, and Air Force officials recognize the important contributions of America's small business community. The nation's nearly 27 million small businesses play a vital role in our nation's economy. They account for nearly 99 percent of all employers and employ more than half of the private workforce. While representing the diversity that makes America great, small businesses play a critical role in supporting Air Force priorities. Small businesses help to fight and win the war on terrorism by: -- Developing a body armor plate for flak vests used in Iraq and Afghanistan. -- Designing and building rechargeable lithium battery packs for unmanned aerial vehicles. -- Developing electronic products used to deter improvised explosive devices in Iraq. -- Working on predictive behavior modeling and simulation to develop computer models so the Air Force can anticipate terror attacks in combat areas. Small businesses help develop and care for our Airmen and their families by: -- Providing contract medical and support personnel to augment in military treatment facilities. -- Providing gate and security guards on Air Force bases. -- Providing environmental remediation and cleanup on Air Force bases. -- Developing a handheld personal computer device to streamline medical reporting, optimize medical staffing and supplies in combat theaters. Members of Small businesses help recapitalize and modernize our aging aircraft, spacecraft and equipment by: -- Producing pilot ladders for F-16 Fighting Falcons, C-17 Globemaster III ground support equipment and C-5 Galaxy generator kits. -- Producing technology insertions, systems upgrades and other enhancements in the area of structural, avionics, radar and electronic warfare. -- Providing specialized hatch covers for hatch-mounted antennae on the MC-130E/H Combat Talons for Air Force Special Operations Command. -- Manufacturing landing gear cylinders and pistol assemblies for the C-5. In a recent letter to the Air Force Small Business community, Secretary of the Air Force Michael W. Wynne acknowledged their diligence and dedication. Overall, in recent years the Air Force has awarded 15 to 17 percent of its contract dollars to small businesses. However, he noted there is still much work to be done, with the Air Force significantly below the Department of Defense's statutory requirement of 23 percent. "In 2006, the Small Business Administration gave DOD a 'red' rating for not meeting mandated small business goals," he wrote. "As a result, the under secretary of Defense (for acquisition, technology and logistics) has asked the Air Force to improve small business performance toward meeting the DOD goal." Secretary Wynne said that "while our major systems acquisitions do not lend themselves to small business prime contracts, we can and must do more across our entire acquisition portfolio to grow and strengthen the Air Force Small Business Program and improve our contribution to achieving DOD's goal." The Air Force Small Business community is taking the challenge head on with its "Beyond Goals" campaign, which focuses on the contributions of small businesses to the Air Force mission and priorities. Under the leadership of Ronald A. Poussard, director of the Office of Small Business Program in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, a strategic plan has been designed that creates an environment to promote small businesses as solutions of choice, not just a matter of meeting a percentage goal. Secretary Wynne endorsed this approach, but recognized it will take more than the Air Force Small Business community to make it a reality. "To accomplish this effort," he wrote, "I am charging each Airman from the headquarters and secretariat staffs, to (major command) commanders, program executive officers, customers, contracting officers and purchase card holders to become part of the small business team." The secretary said "there is no greater time to tap into the innovation, agility and efficiency that small businesses can bring to the Air Force and DOD mission." Log onto www.selltoairforce.org to find out more about Air Force Small Business.