ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Team Robins rolled out the red carpet for Lt. Gen. Stacey Hawkins, Air Force Sustainment Center commander, his wife, Natalie Hawkins, and the rest of the AFSC command team for a mission immersion at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, Jan. 26-27.
The AFSC is responsible for more than 40,000 Airmen working within three air logistics complexes, three air base wings and two supply chain wings across the Air Force. The center provides critical sustainment for the Air Force's most sophisticated weapons systems, and some of those items are maintained at Robins, which in part includes C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, F-15 Eagle and HC-130, along with a wide range of aircraft engines and component parts.
“On my visit, I saw reflections of the past with the legacy weapons systems sustained here for the past 80 years. They are so foundational to our Air Force of today,” Hawkins said. “And to know the forecasted missions to come to Robins, they represent the future of our Air Force and how we are going to be able to prosecute our national defense strategy – everything from the ABMS family of systems, to battle management and control and spectrum warfare.”
Other command team members taking part in the immersion included: Brig. Gen. Elizabeth Arledge, AFSC mobilization assistant to the commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Robert Schultz, AFSC command chief, along with both their spouses.
During the tour, the AFSC team interacted with Airmen at various units of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, the 78th Air Base Wing and AFSC contracting and engineering units to gain a better understanding of contributions Robins provides to the sustainment center, the Air Force and Department of Defense as a whole.
“When you look at the C-17, just as recently as the summer of 2021, the work here at Robins enabled the largest noncombative evacuation in history to occur,” said Hawkins. “Then there’s the C-130, first flight in 1954, and the longest operated produced military weapons system in history. Just two examples of the work done here and how we can operationally succeed anywhere in the world because of the work done here.”
Robins is not resting on its laurels.
Each day, team members strive to deliver integrated capabilities to sustain the legacy force and are looking toward the future by utilizing innovation and STEM technology to benefit the warfighter.
“Robins is the bridge to the future and beyond. The know-how, the ingenuity, the everyday is going to be consequential and essential to keeping America free and preserving our values,” said Hawkins.
He received mission updates from the 402nd Commodities Maintenance Group, 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group and 402nd Electronics Maintenance Group, all within the WR-ALC.
The commander visited Robins North and commended the partnership between the base, the Macon-Bibb Industrial Authority and Central Georgia Technical College. The collaboration combines higher education, training and real-world work experience under one roof.
There are more than 35 robotic systems performing various programmed depot maintenance functions in the 402nd CMXG and members of the Robotics Support Team provided a demonstration on the radome repair robot. A radome is the fiberglass nose cone, which protects the weather radar inside the nose of an aircraft.
According to the 402nd CMXG, the WR-ALC leads the way in the use of robotics systems throughout the DoD as it relates to the implementation of robotics for sustainment. In the next three years they are on track to have 65 robotics systems that will perform 35 different PDM processes and are looking to add members to the robotics team.
“When you look at advanced manufacturing, our goal and what we are aspiring to do in Air Force Materiel Command is to bring about a digital engineering environment that’s going to connect seamlessly all the different parts of our sustainment enterprise,” said Hawkins. “What Robins is doing to start that journey and get out in front is actually pulling the entire Air Force Sustainment Center along when it comes to enabling digital materiel management, which will be game changer in our ability to achieve speed and relevance as to not only how we sustain our current weapons system but our weapon systems’ futures.”
While the missions are important, the people behind the daily grind were a focus of the command team.
Natalie Hawkins, Donna Schultz, and Mary Landon, Arledge’s spouse, got a pulse on quality-of-life issues by touring a variety of programs and services available to Airmen and their families. They visited the 78th Medical Group, Robins housing, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team, the base chapel team, the 78th Force Support Squadron library and Military & Family Readiness Center.
“Without the Airmen and their families, where would we be?” said Natalie Hawkins during her tour of the MDG. “They are the backbone to each mission here, so it is very important their needs are being met. As a former laboratory technologist, I understand the hard and trying work of those in the medical field too.”
The general and command chief also took time to focus on mentorship.
Hawkins met with nineteen members of the Company Grade Officers’ Council, where he graciously and eagerly, shook each of the junior military officers’ hands and asked them to share about themselves and what duties they perform. Schultz separated off and met with senior enlisted leaders to talk about the needs they were encountering amongst the enlisted force.
“I am really super excited to be in this role serving as commander,” he shared with the junior members. “I see it as an upside-down pyramid job. I serve everyone else, and it’s my job to try and establish a culture so that everyone in this organization can reach their full potential.”
Hawkins believes Robins will continue to survive and thrive because of the tight connections between the installation and the community.
“This community owns the patent when it comes to armed forces appreciation and support. It’s in the community’s DNA,” he said. “When you come here, you see people without prompting coming together with one focus to do whatever it takes to sustain this base, so this base can support America’s interests.
“Robins is special that it’s been in existence 80 years, and I don’t see it ending,” Hawkins continued. “When you combine that with vigorous and relentless community support, the future is bright. I’m excited to serve this installation and be a part of its future. It takes that entire village to bring the energy, passion and inspiration to get after what is really one of the most complex mission sets in the United States Air Force.”