New Center commander shares vision

  • Published
  • By Wayne Crenshaw
  • 78 ABW/PA
Imagine serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan or Iraq.

After six months away from home and family, living in extreme weather conditions, facing constant danger, and counting the days until rest and recuperation leave, it's time to fly home.

You are on the airfield expecting to get on a plane and, in a few hours, have your arms wrapped around your spouse and children.

Then someone tells you the C-17 which was supposed to take you home is having a mechanical issue and there's no other aircraft available. You will have to wait until tomorrow ... maybe next week.

That's something Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, the new Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander, saw in his previous job. From December 2009 until taking command here, he served in Kuwait as Director of Central Command's Deployment and Distribution Operation Center.

He oversaw the hugely complex job of moving supplies and personnel into and out of Afghanistan and Iraq during the time of the 30,000 troop surge in Afghanistan and the Responsible Drawdown in Iraq.

Air Mobility Command met his needs most of the time, but not always. Aircraft sometimes couldn't fly, and that was bad for the vital job of getting troops and personnel into land-locked Afghanistan. The general, however, was equally perturbed when he couldn't get troops home at the end of an arduous tour of duty, or on R&R leave at the halfway point.

"If those aircraft weren't available, we couldn't get new people in and we couldn't get people home," he said in an interview in his office this week. "You talk about an impact on morale. When an aircraft dedicated to taking you out isn't able to take you out, what a tremendous break in your morale."

That's the message the new commander wants to send to every mechanic, contracting officer, procurement officer, security forces officer, medical professional, engineer, landscaper, and everyone else who works for or in support of the Center.

The work done here every day is vitally important to the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to the well-being of those serving in harm's way, he said.

"Everyone has to have a sense of how what they do ties back to the Air Logistics Center," he said. "Everyone in this ALC is an integral part of our mission. Some are closer and some are less close but all are critical to being able to achieve our mission."

The general wanted perfection in his job in Kuwait, and he wants it here also.

"That's the only benchmark we can use," he said. "Can we achieve it? I don't know, but I do know if we don't have that benchmark, we can never get better."

One thing he has come to appreciate in his short time here is the energy that was put forth this summer surging out the aircraft needed in the war effort. That energy is going to have to continue, he said, because the demands are still there and will continue.

He said his vision for the Center is to be recognized as "A 'World-Class' Center of Acquisition & Sustainment Excellence."

"We will know we will have achieved that when I hear leaders throughout the Department of Defense saying, 'I want to be like Robins Air Force Base,'" he said.

The general said he expects leaders and managers here to provide workers what they need to perform their jobs safely, and to create a collaborative environment where everyone has input.

He also said he expects labor and management to live by the labor agreement, and for workers to "put in a full day's work for a full day's pay."

"I expect the workforce here to continually seek better ways of doing things," he said. "Continuous process improvement must come from the workforce, and the end result of that synergy is the ability to be a world-class center of excellence."