Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Troy Montgomery and Bill Goggins work together in the KC-46 supply chain. Both say their previous jobs – and service to their country – prepared them for their current roles.
“What I do day to day is all stuff I learned in the Marine Corps,” said Montgomery, who is a KC-46 procurement agent. “Project management, communication, following up – some of those basic things I learned from being a Marine NCO (noncommissioned officer) is what I employ day to day in this program.”
Goggins, a retired colonel from the Marine Corps Reserve, said learning how to be a leader in the Marines has helped him succeed as a KC-46 supplier program manager.
“Leadership is really about teamwork,” Goggins said. “The best idea isn’t usually your own – it’s usually somebody on your team. It’s just a matter of nurturing them and getting them to put forth the ideas.”
Goggins constantly employed teamwork as a First Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) command element liaison officer and future operations planning leader during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Now, he teams up with suppliers to help create the world’s most advanced multi-mission aerial refueler.
“Without our suppliers, we wouldn’t be able to deliver these airplanes,” Goggins said. “We have to work side by side, shoulder to shoulder. And we are absolutely doing that.”
Having visited some of the more than 650 businesses and 37,000 American workers who supply the KC-46 program in 43 states, Goggins noticed one theme was synonymous everywhere he went.
“What I saw at every turn was pride that they’re (supplying for) this airplane,” he said. “There are lots of veterans at these businesses and lots of pride that goes with that – not only for their service but their continued ability to contribute to national security by providing parts that are going to go into U.S. Air Force airplanes.”
That level of pride in the Pegasus extends to Montgomery, a self-proclaimed “total aviation geek” who joined the Marines out of high school and worked as a flight equipment technician during two tours in Iraq.
“It supports everything. It’s the backbone of military aviation,” Montgomery said of the KC-46A, which was cleared by Air Mobility Command for global deployment – including combat operations – last September.
Like Goggins, Montgomery has connected with suppliers across America whose components bring the tanker to life.
“I have suppliers in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and California. I have suppliers in Texas. I have suppliers just down the street here in Washington state,” Montgomery said. “It’s made all over the country. It’s truly an American-made aircraft.”
Goggins marveled at how thousands of components from hundreds of suppliers come together to form the multi-mission tanker.
“Whenever I walk out into the factory floor, it’s like watching magic happen,” he said. “To think all of these components – thousands of components – have to be integrated into the airplane, work together and do what they’re designed to do is just amazing.
“Our suppliers see that and they want to be a part of that. And it’s why I really enjoy coming into work each day,” he said.