He said his plan would require $1 million per year over the next five years.
McMahon is the first president and chief executive officer for the Middle Georgia agency focused on supporting Robins Air Force Base and its mission elements. He assumed that position Sept. 1 after retiring in mid June as the final Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander at Robins.
He told a Museum of Aviation audience of local civic, business and political leaders that the partnership exists for one reason – to enhance the military value of the local installation.
“Robins is the economic engine for Middle Georgia,” McMahon stressed. “It’s also a foundation for the success of the Air Force and the nation’s security. We have a responsibility to make sure nothing happens to this diamond.”
He said both the Air Force and Navy have excess infrastructure of 20 percent.
“The services are clamoring for a BRAC. So it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when,’” he noted. “A BRAC in 2015 or 2017 is the best estimate.”
McMahon’s work plan has both defensive and offensive elements. One continuing objective is to prevent changes to U.S. Code, Title 10 that determine workload that can be performed at public depots such as the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex at Robins.
As the economy and defense budgets shrink, defense contractors want more of the military aircraft modification taskings, the former commander pointed out, and a word slipped into an amendment to a bill could dramatically change the world for public depots.
“If we stopped doing modifications to aircraft at Robins, the C-17 would disappear,” he said. “So would 50 percent of the F-15 and C-130 work. All of the future C-130J work would disappear.”
Major defense contractors have a legion of lobbyists in Washington D.C., he conceded.
“And in Washington D.C., virtual presence is absence. If we’re not part of the discussion, that will happen. That’s our defense,” he told the museum audience.
The general said the offensive plan will begin with a series of studies to determine community status on a broad range of issues: encroachment, clean air, medical availability, cost of living, education, crime, transportation, growth capacity. Some studies have been done and need to be updated. Studies in other areas need to be accomplished, he said.
Another analysis will look at how communities surrounding the 13 industrial facilities within the Defense Department are supporting their installation.
“If we’re number one in every category, we’re golden,” he said. “If we’re number 13, then not so much. We need an objective analysis to determine where we are then create a collaboration to do what we need to do. We have a copy of the test for the next BRAC. We just need to figure out what the answers are.”
A key component of McMahon’s work plan is community education.
“Everybody needs to understand how the base is doing and ‘good’ is not an answer,” he told partnership members.
His plan includes billboards and signs on all approaches to Middle Georgia welcoming visitors to Robins and the museum and stressing that “Every Day in Middle Georgia is Armed Forces Appreciation Day.”
“Everybody in the community needs to understand that Robins impacts them every day – at the national security level and in the economic development and viability of Middle Georgia,” he said.
Funding for the plan will come from private, corporate and governmental contributions and also attainment of 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit. The latter would make the partnership eligible for Combined Federal Campaign and United Way contributions,
“If anyone wants to write me a check for $5 million, I would be glad to receive it,” McMahon said to chuckles from the audience. “Otherwise I will be spending a lot of my time fundraising. I’m glad to do that, but every minute I spend fundraising is time I can’t do something else.”