Although Air Force Materiel Command’s restructuring plans – announced earlier this month – appear on the surface to be a page from the past, officials have issued additional assurances that the changes are futuristic and forward-looking.
The Ohio-headquartered agency, the parent command for Robins Air Force Base, said May 11 that it would convert its wing, group and squadron structure to directorates, divisions and branches by June 30.
The announcement also said the command would beef up its acquisition oversight, adding several new senior program executive officer or PEO slots.
AFMC and its predecessor Air Force Logistics Command have cycled from directorates to wings and back to directorates on several occasions. The latest came in 2004 when the current wing, group and squadron lineup was established to – as the AFMC hierarchy explained at the time – “make AFMC more like the rest of the Air Force” and to “make it easier” for units in the field to recognize where they needed to go for help.
In an e-mailed response to questions about the changes, AFMC officials said the new structure is “driven by an Air Force effort to standardize” the size of wings, groups and squadrons and an overall effort to improve the acquisition process.
“We realize there were many positive aspects of aligning to a wing, group, squadron structure and we’ve retained many of those aspects,” the response noted. “This restructure acknowledges the differences between the acquisition and operational missions in the Air Force. These differences result from the breadth and diversity of responsibility and the uniqueness of the acquisition mission.”
The response added that many of the command’s wings, groups and squadrons were not large enough to meet the Air Force’s size standards. Apparently combining some AFMC field units was considered but dismissed.
“(That) would have been a major undertaking,” the AFMC response pointed out, “and it would have buried major acquisition programs at the squadron level or below. Moving to the directorate, division, branch structure will mean less disruption to the workforce than trying to fit all of AFMC into new Air Force wing, group, squadron definitions.”
AFMC is a massive organization charged with both acquiring and supporting major Air Force weapons systems and components. The command structure includes three major product centers, two test centers, three logistics centers including the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins, three specialized centers and a major laboratory complex. About 78,000 people work in the command – more than 12,000 at Robins – including some 58,000 civilian workers.
How the changes will directly affect Robins is not clear. AFMC said it is “working to ensure minimal impacts to the workforce.” To this point, Robins officials have not commented on the restructuring, deferring all questions to AFMC.
None of the new program executive officer positions will come to Robins. However, the command response did confirm that the 330th Aircraft Sustainment Wing at Robins will be replaced by the Aerospace Sustainment Directorate.
Again, that change will have minimal personnel impact. The “rank, grade and overhead structure will largely not be affected,” AFMC said.