As Warner Robins voters are about chose a mayor, Col. Lyle Drew is settling in to the equivalent of that role at Robins Air Force Base.
Drew became the commander of the 78th Air Base Wing on July 26. He is also the installation commander, overseeing the inner workings of the base such as security forces, the fire department and building and road maintenance.
On Thursday, he spoke with media about this first 90 days on the job, covering topics that included job openings at the base, the new Global Hawk mission, relations with the union and more.
He said there are about 550 job openings in the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, which does heavy maintenance on aircraft and is the largest civilian employer at the base. He said the jobs include aircraft engineers, mechanics, painters and about anything else related to maintaining aircraft. He said filling those jobs is one of his top priorities.
Drew said the base in general isn’t having trouble filling jobs, but some areas are more difficult, especially engineering.
“There is a great need for engineers around our country,” Drew said. “Software engineers are in high demand, especially here at Robins and in our air logistics complex. There’s a lot of competing demands out there.”
Drew said he has had “several interactions” with union leadership.
“We all agree that relationship that we have is built on teamwork,” he said. “In order to get our mission done here on the installation we need to work as team members to ensure that our workforce is ready to go every single day.”
American Federation of Government Employees Local 987, the largest union at Robins, has been in trusteeship since the national union took it over last year and booted the locally elected officers.
Drew said he has not heard union leaders state when a new election will be held.
Shortly before Drew took command, a Global Hawk came to Robins to be repainted. It was the first time an unmanned aircraft had landed at an Air Force maintenance depot. Drew said a second Global Hawk has come since he took command, but isn’t sure when the next one will come or what the schedule might be in the coming year for more to come.
“We are hopeful that we get more in the near in future,” he said. “That’s a great new work opportunity for the air logistics center.”
He said one of his biggest challenges ahead is dealing with the aging infrastructure at the base. He said about half of the buildings at Robins were constructed in the 1940s.
“We are constantly finding ways to refurbish and if necessary replace those facilities,” he said.