Ask an Expert: How to Manage Your Supply Chain Efficiently with Ryan Coyne, U.S. Air Force Chief Logistics Operations


The time has come where we "Ask an Expert" questions that you all have been eager to have answered. We interviewed Ryan Coyne who is the Chief of Logistics Operations for the United States Air Force. To put it simply, he’s no joke. With a $17.5 billion dollar supply chain under his belt, we would say he knows a thing or two about managing supply chain & logistics.

Ryan leads a team of 25 who span supply chain, transportation, planning and QA professionals. If that wasn’t enough, he oversees sustainment solutions for 4500 aircraft and 1.8 million vehicles and equipment assets all over the world.

Without any more hesitation, let’s see what this supply champ has got to say.

The discussion begins at 3:03 with Ryan sharing his responsibilities as the core logistics readiness officer and we quickly learn that he has been involved in supply chain for about 19½ years. That's almost 2 decades of knowing all there is to know about supply chain.

Ryan explains to us that although his team moves parts around the world they deal more with the end user. Due to the fact that he deals with maintenance group providers to even customer complaints, Ryan considers his work on the retail side of things.

Efficiency in your Supply Chain

We asked Ryan how he stays organized with such volume and at 10:02 he explains the organization of his wing and compares the ease of their system to Amazon. Below him is a wing of 25 staffers that work with 3 major commodities, which are aircraft parts, petroleum, and equipment items & parts for vehicles.  

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His staff of 25 has 3 groups below them of 100-200 folks a piece. Each team has a different role or specialty.

From their $17.5 billion dollar supply chain, $8-9 billion alone comes from aircraft parts. Ryan and his wing goes through about 5½ million customer transactions a month. That's more transactions than most companies receive in a year.

Ryan stresses the importance of taking advantage of demand patterns. Due to the fact that his wing can move inventory back and forth they skip the step of asking retail teams and do it themselves.

At 14:03 Ryan shares with us the importance of communication within his team and how having an enterprise view of their supply chain has worked for them.

Leadership & Motivation


Lastly we discussed with Ryan what he believes makes a good leader. At 20:49 Ryan shares that he looked to his coaches back in high school for leadership skills.

"I've never given an order in my entire career and I've been a commander 3 times. You know it's more of a collaboration, a coaching effort, constant huddles, making sure we have a consensus before we move forward." - Ryan Coyne  

Ryan believes that if you aren't leading by coaching and collaborating then you will lose trust and your staff will do things because they have to and not because they want to. 

He then goes on to explain that a leader must give people a chance to learn new skills, treat their staff calmly, with dignity, and look out for them.

At 26:45 Ryan adds that when it comes to motivating the younger generations a good leader must ask a lot of questions leading them to getting the right answer. This way they learn on their own and their time is protected.

In his line of work they don't receive bonuses but as a leader when you give associates back time, that's a bonus worth gold.