General: Robins could get work from other branches

wcrenshaw@macon.comApril 24, 2014 

The Air Force isn’t the only branch of the military with aircraft, and future growth at Robins Air Force Base could come from working on those planes.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, the Air Force’s top man over depot maintenance, made that suggestion while speaking to members of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

He was responding to an audience question about the possibility of doing work for other branches of the Department of Defense.

“Why not?” he asked. “It is not quite that far-fetched. I can tell you right now there are some of our aircraft like the C-130, there are other services that very much want us to take on that workload. We’ve got to build the capacity to be able to take it.”

Robins does overhaul maintenance on the C-130, as well as the F-15, C-5 and C-17.

Making all three depots as efficient and effective as possible, he said, is the key to luring work from other branches.

“I would suggest if our three depots become the best value, then it won’t be long before we are doing much more work across the DOD,” he said.

He suggested budgetary constraints among all of the branches could increase that potential.

“The other services are in the position that we are in terms of the Air Force with their budget coming down,” Litchfield said. “They are going to have to make tough decisions in terms of how much they are going to pay for readiness and how much they are going to pay for modernization.”

Litchfield is commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The center is headquarters for the three maintenance depots.

He said creating more capacity likely won’t be about construction or hiring more people.

“What we are trying to do to create capacity is increase our productivity,” he said. “Shrink the footprint that you need in order to operate that work and get very efficient with the workforce you have. That way when you bring in more work, what you are able to do is do it within the same footprint you have. I would suggest if we don’t do that, the infrastructure costs alone will be prohibitive.”

He said there is only one military construction project planned for the entire Air Force Materiel Command this year, and that hasn’t even been funded yet.

“If we need to do mil con to take this on, it won’t happen,” he said. “Or at least it will be very difficult to happen.”

Litchfield began his comments by noting his ties to Middle Georgia. His first assignment was at Robins, from 1981 to 1985, and he holds a master’s degree in administration from Georgia College & State University. He also served at Robins from 2003 to 2004.

“I do not feel like a visitor when I come here,” he said. “I believe I owe what I am today to the start I got at Robins Air Force Base.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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