Team beats the clock, meets goal of exceeding warfighter, customer expectations

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --  At the stroke of midnight July 16, one of three clocks in the then-Warner Robins Air Logistics Center Mission Control Room counted down to zero.

The clock let the center know how much time it had remaining to meet a goal it set for itself, 18 months earlier, to "consistently exceed warfighter and customer expectations." It was decided the best way to measure that was by the center's record of on-time delivery of aircraft.

"That was the most visible thing people could see. In order to really provide the best support to the customer, (and) create a more positive image in the local community, we have to deliver airplanes on time," explained Doug Keene, vice director of what's now the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex.

When the countdown clock struck zero, 97 percent of aircraft were being delivered on time. The target that had been set was 95 percent.

At the beginning of fiscal 2011, the on-time delivery rate stood at 47 percent.

"I've been around for 25 years, and that is probably the biggest turnaround I've ever seen," said Keene. "That shows the power and the speed you can get as a horizontally-integrated team ... and I've never seen a team as solid as we were this past year and a half. What has been exciting about the last few weeks, in particular, is that we have all stayed together."

Indeed, while many of the sub-organizations of the former center now have different reporting chains and operate a bit more independently of one another, senior leaders of those activities continue to meet on a weekly basis in what is now the complex. They understand the importance of helping the complex be successful, but also understand how these meetings contribute to making their own organizations and, ultimately, Robins successful.

For instance, the 78th Air Base Wing's 'job jar' includes overseeing all infrastructure across the installation.

While, among other things, it maintains a central compressed air plant in the complex, which powers tools for sanding in paint hangars and repairing aircraft, it also ensures the base's 12,001 foot-long runway - the longest in Georgia - is ready for use not only by F-15s, C-5s, C-17s and C-130s, but E8C J-STARS (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) aircraft operated by the 116th and 461st Air Control wings and Light Attack Helicopters used by Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron-773.

In fact, the 78th recently oversaw the replacement of concrete slabs on the runway. It also oversaw upgrades to the runway's South Aircraft Barrier Arresting System, which acts as a safety net for tailhook-equipped aircraft which may need assistance when landing.

"We provide the infrastructure for everyone to be able to do their jobs," said James Willingham, 78th Civil Engineer Group deputy director.

Meanwhile, Defense Logistics Agency components here perform a variety of missions in support of all branches of the military. But, they also partner directly with numerous organizations on Robins to ensure their supply needs are met.

One such component, DLA Aviation Warner Robins, has realized a "29 percent reduction in backorders for maintenance" since early 2011 - a mark its commander, Col. Daniel Hicks, says is attributable to the teaming of local senior leaders.

"In my fifteen months here, I've seen professionals meet together to understand and then resolve problems that would hold us back from being world-class," he said. "The senior leaders I've worked with here set a great example that has permeated the base."

While processes such as high velocity maintenance have been behind many of the local improvements, Keene also credits most of the success to teamwork - teamwork he's confident will prevail here for the foreseeable future.

"I'm very optimistic because I think we have the opportunity to be better than we've ever been," he said. "To become world-class, you have to be better than everyone else, and I know people here want to be that."