Air Force reorganization paying off, top general says on Robins visit

wcrenshaw@macon.comSeptember 25, 2012 

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- Two months after the creation of the new Air Force Sustainment Center that oversees maintenance operations at Robins Air Force Base, the center’s commander said the new structure is already paying off.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield said the reorganization is going well. The center he commands, headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is over the Air Force’s three maintenance depots, including Robins.

“I can say unequivocally we are operating more effectively today than we were before we stood up,” Litchfield said Tuesday following a two-day visit to Robins.

He has now seen maintenance operations first hand at the three depots, which are the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, Ogden Air Logistics Complex at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex at Tinker. A major part of the reorganization is to standardize maintenance operations at each base.

“For the first time we are all talking the same language,” Litchfield said. “We are all executing in a similar leadership capacity and a similar leadership model. We are all operating under the same scientific principles and production capability at all three of our strategic bases, and it’s really remarkable to see that in such a short period of time.”

The reorganization is projected to save $109 million, which Litchfield said will help Air Force Materiel Command meet budget cuts already in place. However, unless Congress comes to an agreement to avoid it, an 11 percent across-the-board cut in defense spending would take place Jan. 2. The action is commonly referred to as “sequestration.”

Asked whether “across the board” means Robins can expect an 11 percent cut in its budget, Litchfield said, “If sequestration happens, there will be major impacts here and at every other base we have in the military.”

Without sequestration, he said he believes the command can meet current budget cuts without impacting jobs in the coming year.

Under the reorganization, Air Force Materiel Command reduced from 12 centers to five. What had been the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center headed by a two-star general became the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex headed by a one-star general, reporting to the consolidated center at Tinker.

Each of the three depots underwent identical changes. However, the Ogden complex will have a two-star general because the one-star general assigned to that job is being promoted later this year. That has led some to question whether Robins will be at the bottom when it comes to influence among the three depots, but Litchfield brushed off that suggestion.

“Let me just tell you that the leadership you have at Robins is the best we have in the Air Force, and I wouldn’t read anything into the two-star select that we have at Hill, other than we had to work with the personnel that we have in place,” he said.

Under the reorganization, maintenance reports to Tinker, while program managers report to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Litchfield said having the two segments reporting up different chains of command has not been an issue.

“We are all working together to make sure that we don’t have any gaps in what we execute,” he said. “In fact what we are seeing right now in what we are putting forward to the warfighting commands is a unity in terms of making sure that we deliver a capability to the warfighter, and that’s not what we’ve done in the past. I’m really pretty excited about how we are integrating this together.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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