General: New RAFB center big for Air Reserve

wcrenshaw@macon.comSeptember 19, 2011 

WARNER ROBINS -- Air Force Reserve Command’s new Force Generation Center represents a significant improvement in the way the Reserve mobilizes troops, its commander said Wednesday.

The center at Robins Air Force Base will serve as the focal point for all operations related to mobilization, acting essentially as the AFRC’s 911, said Brig. Gen. William “Blaze” Binger, center commander. Operating around the clock, the center will track the current location and status of all reservists, future needs for mobilization and other information to help streamline the mobilization process, he said.

A key benefit is that it will allow reservists more advance notice of mobilization, which will also help employers.

“This is huge for the Air Force Reserve,” Binger said. “It’s a capability the Air Force Reserve needed years ago. It’s going to give visibility to the senior leadership on what our services are doing. It provides maximum predictability for our reservists, their families and their employers.”

The effort to start up the center began in May 2010, and initial operations began in October, but the center is not set to become fully operational until next August. However, Binger said of the 86 positions slated for the unit, 29 have already been filled by moving people from within the command and other areas at Robins.

An AFRC release last week stated 57 new civilian positions would be created at Robins in relation to the center, filling out the remaining portion of the hires. Some of those jobs have already been filled both by moving people from other areas and new hires, leaving about two dozen jobs left to be filled.

Hiring for most of those jobs is largely on hold by the current Air Force hiring freeze, and could still be affected by the budget cuts. However, with those currently on staff, the center is already close to being fully operational, Binger said.

In fact, the unit has already been put to the test, processing requests for reservists to include fighting wildfires in Mexico, support of operations in Libya and earthquake relief in Japan. It was through those experiences Binger established the round-the-clock element called Battle Watch to help ensure the quickest possible response to requests.

Among the myriad information tracked at the center is the reservists who have volunteered for assignments. As much as possible, Binger said, the command tries to use those who have volunteered. The new center will help match reservists who have volunteered with mobilization opportunities that fit their specialty area.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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