ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE – Gen. Donald Hoffman, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, spent Monday and Tuesday at Robins Air Force Base to get what he called the “view from the local perspective.”
Hoffman, speaking Monday to Carl Vinson Chapter 296 of the Air Force Association, said sustainment is a primary concern for the Ohio-headquartered command that manages $59 billion annually and employs 75,000 people, including more than 12,000 at Robins Air Force Base and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.
Although the command is responsible for research, development and procurement of Air Force weapon systems, the Air Force Academy graduate said sustainment — the primary workload at Robins — is AFMC’s highest volume business and also the most challenging.
“It is the focus of a lot of Air Force discussion including how to resource it,” he told more than 100 attendees at the Horizons Club ballroom at Robins.
Servicing the Air Force’s aging fleet is particularly challenging. “The reality is that the real discoveries come when we open up old airplanes,” he said. “And of course if we don’t deliver the aircraft on time it creates a daisy chain of events down stream. So it is very complex.”
Hoffman said the perspectives gained during the Robins visit would help him influence the arenas he works in.
“Those are the people who size and shape our maneuver box,” he pointed out.
Robins and the local logistics center — as most locations throughout the command — are largely constrained to existing facilities, the general noted.
“We need creative people doing what they can within those constraints and I see a lot of creativity and hard work,” he said. “We don’t want to be a parking lot (for aircraft). We want to get them in and out. And that requires a total partnership with the Defense Logistics Agency and the community.”
Hoffman took several questions from the audience including inquiries on the pending new Air Force tanker and energy conservation.
Requests for proposals have been issued for a new tanker to replace the aging KC-135, he said, although the program continues to have political challenges.
“It would be nice to resolve the political challenges,” Hoffman indicated, “and not put those on our acquisition team. Let them do the job the way they should and let the outcome speak for itself.”
Responding to a question on the future of the command, particularly the way ahead for the three logistics centers, the commander said he expected continued growth.
“As long as we have an aging fleet, we will have plenty of sustainment work,” he said. “Even with the most wildly optimistic budget for acquisition (of new weapon systems), the overall age of our fleet will keep going up.”