ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Acting Secretary of the Air Force John Roth visited Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, May 10-11 to receive briefs on the base’s depot maintenance operations and Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, along with meeting with Team Robins Airmen and Middle Georgia community leaders.
Robins AFB is home to almost 24,000 personnel. The total force team is comprised of Active, Reserve and Guard Airmen, Guardians, Soldiers, Department of Defense civilians and contractors. This power projection platform is responsible for multiple mission objectives, from aircraft sustainment to battle management.
“Robins Air Force Base is a central nexus for keeping airplanes in the sky and supporting the greater Air Force,” Roth said. “We have over 50 different activities and units here, and thousands of Airmen, including military, civilian and contractors.”
Support of the installation is handled by the 78th Air Base Wing, which enables the success of its 54 mission partners including the Defense Logistics Agency, Air Force Reserve Command, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Supply Chain Management, 461st and 116th Air Control Wings, 5th Combat Communications Group and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.
Among its mission partners, the WR-ALC is the largest. It’s one of only three Air Force depots and falls under the Air Force Sustainment Center. As a key component to the Air Force’s industrial organic industrial base, the depot provides maintenance, engineering support and software development to major weapon systems, including the F-15, C-5, C-130, C-17 and special operations aircraft.
“The work that people do here is extraordinarily important for the Air Force,” Roth said. “It’s central. Our job in our ‘organize, train, and equip’ mission is to be ready whenever the country asks us to be ready. Maintaining our airplanes, keeping our aircraft like the C-5, the C-130 and others in shape so that they can be ready to go is central to what we do.”
Along with visiting organizations around Robins like the WR-ALC, Roth had the opportunity to meet with Middle Georgia community leaders.
“The community leaders are across the board extraordinarily supportive of what we do. They’re great patriots,” Roth said. “These kinds of communities understand who we are, what we are, and what we do for America.
“Community relationships are very important for us across the enterprise. Here in Middle Georgia, in particular, it’s terrific to see the kind of community support we have,” he continued. “Our families live in these communities, go to school in these communities, and shop in these communities. So it’s terrific to have this kind of relationship.”
Those community relationships have led to partnerships with local communities and academia to bolster the mission at Robins AFB.
Even as the COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges to Robins AFB and the Air Force, Robins leaned forward in its digital enterprising and modernization. Organizations from Robins used these partnerships to pursue growth in software engineering.
While here, Roth had a chance to visit Project Synergy, a collaborative effort between the WR-ALC and the Houston County Board of Education, established in response to the growing software workloads within the Air Force and the need for space currently unavailable at Robins Air Force Base. He saw first-hand how the community and Robins are working together to address the digital needs of the Air Force.
Roth emphasized the need to be competitive in the digital enterprise and touched on programs such as the upcoming Advanced Battle Management System.
“The Advanced Battle Management System and other related kinds of systems are absolutely foundational and fundamental to going forward,” he said. “The future of warfare and deterrence is all about managing data.
“It’s wonderful to talk about airplanes that burn holes in the sky and satellites that orbit the planet – both important – but it’s all about data,” Roth continued. “Those that manage data at speed and scale will end up prevailing; those that don’t will lose.”
Roth continued on to say that investment in technologies is important to keep ahead of countries like Russia and China.
“It’s important for us to continue to invest in technologies that move information and data from a sensor to a decision maker in relevant time so that we have the options to know what responses are necessary to any given situation,” he said.
The digital enterprise is a job for all Airmen, according to Roth.
“Both the Air Force and the Space Force have talked about a digitally competent workforce – uniformed personnel, civilians and contractors,” he said. “Going forward that’s foundationally important and ABMS is an important program for us in terms of building the kinds of joint all-domain operations that we foresee happening in the future.”
According to Roth, part of getting a digitally competent force is to focus on the diversity of the force. While here, he stressed the importance of diversity and inclusion in moving the Air Force forward.
“We are America. We’re part of America. We need to look like America. We need talent,” Roth said. “We need to reach out into all the nooks and crannies of the American population in terms of bringing in people who can contribute.”
In order to meet this need, Robins AFB is focusing on diversity and inclusion efforts. As part of those efforts, the WR-ALC has set up a Diversity and Inclusion Working Group and the 78th ABW is in the process of completing theirs.
“These changes aren’t things that happen overnight,” Roth said. “These are things that are sometimes difficult to do. But it’s very important for us to be an employer of choice for America and to be open to anybody and everyone who wants to come join us and help do what we do for America.”
To close out his visit to Robins, Roth spoke on the COVID-19 pandemic and the way ahead.
“The existential threat we have today, our contingency challenge for today, isn’t overseas. It’s the COVID crisis,” Roth stressed. “We need to get this behind us. We as a nation and we as an Air Force need to get this behind us.
“We’re making progress in this,” he continued. “I think a cornerstone to this is the vaccinations. We need to get shots in our arms and I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to get the shot.”