Community receives update at State of the Base forum

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Community support and appreciation, combat capabilities, mission support and focus, and production were key areas highlighted during a State of the Base forum conducted Tuesday at the Museum of Aviation.

Several base leaders spoke including representatives from Air Force Reserve Command, Team JSTARS which includes the 461st Air Control Wing, 116th Air Control Wing and 138th Military Intelligence Co.; 78th Air Base Wing; Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex; 5th Combat Communications Group; and Marine Aircraft Group 49 Detachment A/HMLA-773. 

More than 200 community members received first-hand information from senior leaders on various programs and priorities. The event was hosted by the Robins Regional Chamber Military Affairs Committee. 

Col. Jeffrey King, 78th ABW commander, began with an update on storm and tornado damages that occurred at Robins April 1. Several roofs and fencing along the Green Street gate were damaged, as nearly 4 inches of rain fell with winds clocked from 70 to 90 mph. There were no injuries. 

He continued by highlighting various unit and individual awards won in the last year across the installation; the $2.75 billion economic impact of the base in 2015; community support from continued cost-savings opportunities through the 30-plus public-public, public-private (P4) partnerships; and improved safety and labor statistics, attributed to the ongoing success of management and labor relations. 

"Productivity, mission focus and taking care of people - that's really what we're all here for, and we're very thankful to our union partners and their commitment to advancing those causes. These positive relations with the labor force and our local union is absolutely essential to the viability of Robins Air Force Base in the way ahead," said King. 

He also spoke of the incredible, second-to-none support experienced from the base from community leaders and their representatives. 

"Bottom line, when we ask, the community responds. You affirm for us that 'Every Day in Middle Georgia is Armed Forces Appreciation Day,'" he said. 

Aircraft, software and maintenance production successes from the past year were highlighted by Brig. Gen. Walter Lindsley, WR-ALC commander, as well as the current production status. 

"In 2015 the WR-ALC produced more aircraft, commodities, with a better safety and quality record than any time in the past five years," said Lindsley, referring to the base's production of over 217 aircraft. "We are exactly at mid-point in the year. Looking forward, we can see no reason why we will not meet or exceed every one of our commitments, whether it's aircraft, commodities or software for this production year."   

Team JSTARS, represented Tuesday by Col. Mark Weber, 116th ACW commander; Col. Tim Brester, 461st ACW vice commander; and Lt. Col. Brian Schmanski Army JSTARS commander; discussed their respective operational capabilities, as well as the impact of ongoing deployments over the last 15 years and how the community has supported families so those missions can continue.

The team's mission effectiveness rate overseas is 99 percent, a testament to the airmen and corporate partners who keep the aircraft flying successfully. 

AFRC, based at Robins, celebrated its 68th birthday yesterday from its formal establishment in 1948. Its headquarters moved to Robins in 1968. 

With a total force of 70,000 airmen - of which 74 percent are part-time - at Robins alone its impact includes about 2,000 military and civilian jobs, with a $222 million local economic impact in fiscal 2015, creating nearly $50 million in jobs. 

"AFRC and Robins have deep ties due to the long history we have dating all the way back to 1968. That means we have deep ties to the community of which we're very proud," said AFRC's Maj. Gen. Michael Kim. 

Following this summer's retirement of Lt. Gen. James Jackson, Maj. Gen. Maryanne Miller has been nominated to become the next AFRC commander. Maj. Gen. Richard Haddad, vice commander, will also retire, and will be replaced by Maj. Gen. Buck Waldrop, currently serving as assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Reserve Matters. The new AFRC command chief is Chief Master Sgt. Ericka Kelly. 

The 5th Combat Communications Group, whose many missions include building communications capabilities at bases anywhere in the world, has experienced increased operations tempo, more than any time since 2003 in support of four combatant commands. The group recently earned the McClelland Award for best large communications unit and a Meritorious        Unit Award. 

"It's been a great year for the 5th CCG," said Col. Keith Mueller, 5th CCG commander.   

Lt. Col. Philip Eilertson, MAG 49 Det A commanding officer, echoed that sentiment, "We have enjoyed the support and hospitality of the base and the local community," he said. 

Eilertson, an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot, who arrived at Robins in 2014, also spoke of the pending summer move of the squadron's 300-plus active duty and Reservists. The HMLA-773 and MAG-49 Det A arrived at Robins in July 2010.  

The squadron, which flies seven AH-1W Super Cobras and three UH-1Y Super Hueys, will begin its transfer in June to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.