As Maj. Gen. Bruce A. Litchfield adds a third star next week, the commander of Tinker Air Force Base's massive repair depot will add new responsibilities.
During a ceremony next week, Tinker will become headquarters for the Air Force Sustainment Center, directing operations at several sites with more than 32,000 military and civilian employees.
“This is probably one of the most complex endeavors that we've been involved with,” Litchfield said in a telephone interview. “A lot of it has to do with how we are changing the mechanics of how we are doing our business. Whenever you're doing that kind of magnitude of effort, there are thousands and thousands of details that you have to make sure you've got your arms around.”
The Air Force Material Command last year announced it would consolidate 12 centers into five in a plan designed to streamline operations, reduce its workforce and save about $109 million a year. Tinker was designated as the Air Force Sustainment Center to provide oversight of the air logistics centers at Tinker, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., and Hill Air Force Base, Utah, along with the Global Logistics Support Center at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.
The air logistics centers, which now are called air logistics complexes, work on aircraft, missiles and other weapons systems.
With cooperation from those other bases, Litchfield said leaders are ready to make the transition.
“It really has been a spectacular effort,” he said.
Ready for change
While the move is expected to eliminate more than 100 jobs at Tinker, some of which already were vacant, Litchfield said it positions the base and the Air Force to better cope with expected cost-cutting.
“Once the environment changes, you have two choices: You can fight it and become irrelevant or adapt to it and ... look for the opportunities in this changing environment,” he said. “When we see the opportunities, we go after them and become stronger. That's what I think we're posturing ourselves to do.”
While the Air Force's mission is unlike of that of private business, it can cut costs in similar ways, he said.
“The more overhead that you can squeeze out of the organization, the more dollars that are spent on output,” he said. “We are doing that. We've got to figure out ways to get more efficient if we're going to have a what I call a good defense posture to be able to fight the next war.”