Robins Air Force Base is area’s economic engine

wcrenshaw@macon.comMay 5, 2013 

Robins Air Force Base is by far the largest employer in Middle Georgia and the largest single-site employer in the state.

Approximately 21,000 people work at the vast complex, including 6,500 military members, according to its annual economic impact statement.

The base hosts a wide array of units, but its heart is the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, commanded by Brig. Gen. Cedric George. The organization is responsible for overhaul maintenance of the C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster, C-130 Hercules and the F-15 Eagle fighter, all of which are vital to military operations.

Operating under the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, other units are responsible for life cycle sustainment of those aircraft, as well as managing the U-2 spy plane and all Air Force helicopters. Additionally, the complex works on components from an even wider range of aircraft.

The base is home to many units not connected to the maintenance and sustainment missions.

Those include the 689th Combat Communications Wing and its 5th Combat Communications Group. The 461st Air Control Wing and 116th Air Control Wing jointly operate the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft, which is frequently used in combat operations.

The Air Force Reserve Command headquarters is at Robins, and the base is also the home of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773. The Defense Logistics Agency has a large presence at the base and is responsible for distributing a wide range of parts and supplies to military units around the world.

The 78th Air Base Wing, commanded by Col. Mitchel Butikofer, is in charge of security and logistics support for all units on base. Sometime this summer he will be replaced by Col. Chris Hill.

In 1941, the Army approved this site for a new airfield, and in 1942 named it for Brig. Gen. Augustine Warner Robins, considered the Air Force’s “father of logistics.” The town of Wellston changed its name to Warner Robins to match the base.

During World War II, the base employed about the same number of people as it does today, performing maintenance on vital aircraft at the time, including the B-17 bomber and P-51 fighter.

Employment at the base has fluctuated dramatically through the years, but it has remained the economic backbone of the area and spurred significant growth in Houston County. The base has an annual payroll of $1.41 billion with a $692 million retiree payroll. The value of indirect jobs created by the base is about $1.2 billion. The total economic impact on Georgia is estimated at $2.9 billion.

The 21st Century Partnership is a group of community leaders who work to support Robins and recruit new missions. It is headed by retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, a former commander at the base.

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