WARNER ROBINS -- In the span of about an hour Tuesday, a lot changed at Robins Air Force Base.
More than 300 people, including Gov. Nathan Deal, attended a ceremony at the Museum of Aviation that began with the deactivation of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and the 402nd Maintenance Wing.
That was followed by the activation of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex and the installation of Brig. Gen. Cedric George as commander. He is the first black top commander at Robins.
He expressed determination to keep the base moving on an upward track as it enters a new era of how it operates.
While we celebrate and have every reason to be proud of what we have done in the past, history reminds us it is no guarantee for future success, George said. We have got to get better and better at what we do.
The changes are for a restructuring of Air Force Materiel Command announced last November. The command is reducing from 12 centers to five, which is supposed to eliminate redundant layers of command and save $109 million annually.
George will answer to Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, commander of the newly established Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., which is over the three maintenance depots. All three depots are becoming air logistics complexes.
Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, Air Force Materiel Command commander, expressed confidence the plan will work.
This new construct simplifies and reduces our overhead structure, but most importantly, I firmly believe it will allow this command to more effectively and efficiently accomplish our critical mission of warfighter support, Wolfenbarger said.
The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center was created in 1974 from what had been the Warner Robins Air Materiel Area. The 402nd Maintenance Wing was created in 2005 to place the varied maintenance units under one organization.
Col. Evan Miller, the last commander of the 402nd, led the wing through a period of significant improvement in production efficiency, safety and quality.
He offered some final words to the maintainers.
Embrace this change and lead the command in making the five-center construct and Air Logistics Complex an overwhelming success, he said. Dont be satisfied with your current level of performance. Push yourselves to be better than you think possible.
Litchfield noted the stand up of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex comes exactly a week after the stand up of the Air Force Sustainment Center.
What we are really doing is continuing this historic transition, but it is also a rich horizon filled with opportunity, Litchfield said. Our vision is not just to meet expectations but to achieve the art of possible results.
George is 25-year Air Force veteran who most recently served as commander of the 76th Maintenance Wing at Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center, a job similar to what he will be doing here.
What you will see in the vast majority of our work force is that the core missions will remain the same, so not much change, George said during a news conference prior to the ceremony.
George said a benefit of the new structure is that it will put in place consistent practices at all three centers, and best practices of each center have been identified to establish that consistency.
Much of the improvement at the base in the past year has been attributed to a culture of all units in the center communicating better and working together to resolve issues, often referred to as horizontal integration.
Under the new structure, maintainers will report to the Air Force Sustainment Center while program managers and planners will report to a separate command, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, to be headed by Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Moore attended Tuesdays ceremony but didnt speak.
George said he is confident horizontal integration will remain vibrant at Robins even with two separate chains of command. He said any conflicts between the two sides will first be addressed at the base level, but if that fails it will have to addressed between Moore and Litchfield.
If that plan is not working, then we will make adjustments, George said. We are going to have to take a step and learn as we go.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.