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General: Robins Air Force Base setting efficiency records

WARNER ROBINS -- Robins Air Force Base is doing well in the Air Force’s push for a more efficient and effective operation, a top general said Thursday.

Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield said he plans to walk the production lines at the base Friday, where he’s seeing airplanes getting turned around in record times with record quality, improved labor relations and a top safety history.

“I just want to say to you all, it’s great to be part of a winning team. It’s great to know Robins is going to be strong not only today and tomorrow but for a long time to come,” said Litchfield, commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, which oversees the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.

Litchfield and Lt. Gen. John Thompson of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center told an audience of hundreds of contractors that the Air Force is seeking ways to be much more efficient and effective. The event was held at the Museum of Aviation and was organized by the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Litchfield said good teamwork, including that between the Air Force and contractors, can dramatically improve how efficient maintenance and overhaul operations become. He cited programmed depot maintenance for the KC-135 tanker, which dropped from 224 days to 120. That maintenance is not done at Robins.

“We could double our performance toward our full potential,” Litchfield said.

Thompson said some well-intended efforts to improve efficiency, such as some acquisition reform efforts, have been penny-wise but pound-foolish.

“In today’s resource-constrained environment, there’s not enough manpower and money around to add work to achieve the same end. Good ideas are good ideas,” Thompson said. “But good ideas poorly implemented are bad ideas.”

Thursday’s daylong event, formally called the Program Executive Officer Review and Outlook, takes the place of a three-day event that had been called the Requirements Symposium.

The base has said it has a $2.7 billion economic impact on Georgia, with some $386 million in construction, contracts and other expenses in fiscal 2014.

Lisa Frugé-Cirilli, chairwoman of the chamber’s Aerospace Industry Committee, said events such as the one Thursday help fill in communication and networking gaps. She expects a similar event will be held next year.

Tony Baumann, director of contracting at Robins, said events like Thursday’s are effective at helping businesses and the military alike. Baumann, a Macon native, told The Telegraph that businesses get a longer-range look at what the Air Force will need, giving them a chance to better plan their products. The Air Force gets competition, which can bring better pricing and more innovation, Baumann said.

Thompson said critical partnerships include not only those with industry, but those with community. He praised the support for Robins Air Force Base.

“It’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family,” said Thompson, who has 3,300 employees here. “It’s a wonderful place to do the work that is required to support airmen all over the world.”

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