Logistics leaders address AF future

A panel of past and present Air Force logistics leaders answers questions from the audience during a recent Logistics Officer Association luncheon in the Tinker Club. From left are retired Lt. Gen. William Hallin, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., commander from 1992-1995; Maj. Gen. David Gillett, current Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center commander; retired Maj. Gen. William Bowden, OC-ALC commander from 1985-1989; and Robert Conner, director of the ALC from 2005-2007. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

A panel of past and present Air Force logistics leaders answers questions from the audience during a recent Logistics Officer Association luncheon in the Tinker Club. From left are retired Lt. Gen. William Hallin, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., commander from 1992-1995; Maj. Gen. David Gillett, current Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center commander; retired Maj. Gen. William Bowden, OC-ALC commander from 1985-1989; and Robert Conner, director of the ALC from 2005-2007. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A summer lecture series devoted to logistics brought past and present air logistics center leaders together July 31 for a panel discussion and question and answer period.

Hosted by the Logistics Officer Association's Crossroads Chapter, the "Logistics over Lunch"  attracted approximately 70 people.

The panel members all served as air logistics center commanders during their careers, including: retired Lt. Gen. William Hallin, who was the commander at Warner Robins Air Logistics Center, Ga., from 1992 to 1995; Maj. Gen. David Gillett, present Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center commander; retired Maj. Gen. William Bowden, OC-ALC commander from 1985 to 1989; and Robert Conner, now retired, was the OC-ALC director from 2005 to 2007. Following lunch, the four panel-members sat and answered submitted questions.

The panel agreed taking care of people should remain a top priority and the Air Force should always be prepared for change. They also said accepting a shrinking Air Force and smaller airframes is a reality. The new Tinker Aerospace Center and the Air Force Global Logistics Center are assets to the base and the Air Force, the panel said.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same," said Mr. Conner.

Supporting the warfighter and developing an effective work force are two Air Force priorities that don't change. But, as the world modifies itself, Mr. Conner said, leaders must remain vigilant to adapt.

Mr. Conner said one way to do so is to learn about the Air Force's Unmanned Aircraft System Flight-Plan for 2009 to 2047. He said "it's the way to the future" and not just for reconnaissance missions, but for several aircraft -- bomber, tanker, cargo and fighter missions.

General Bowden agreed.

"The unmanned aircraft are really going to be a factor in the future," General Bowden said. "That is out there and it is many years away. Between now and then, we're going to have to maintain what we have until we get the new tanker and the next-generation bomber and fighters."

General Gillett agreed and said Tinker's leadership remains devoted to improving the work force.

"We are in competition with industry to recruit, train and develop people with the right skills for the future," General Gillett said.

Mr. Conner said he's also convinced of two futures -- the Air Force will have fewer aircraft and the airframes will be smaller.

"This isn't something that happens in five years or 10 years, but over a period of time, I think the nature of the Air Force will change," Mr. Conner said. "We need to think strategically longer term about what will happen."

As these concepts become realities, the leaders agreed Tinker and the Air Force have two secret weapons: the Air Force Global Logistics Support Center and the Tinker Aerospace Complex.

"We've come a very long way," General Hallin said. "What I'm impressed with today is that we actually took a concept and policy and put it into reality; it's a thing called the Global Logistics Support Center ... an enterprise-wide look at how we do Air Force business and logistics and set the priorities from an enterprise-wide standpoint."

General Gillett agreed.

"The Air Force Global Logistics Support Center standup is an evolutionary step to improve our supply chain," he said. "From my perspective, the AFGLSC is one of a number of initiatives to improve logistics in the Air Force. It has been everything I hoped it would be and it is exceeding expectations."

General Hallin said the TAC also continues to impress him.

"There's no question in my mind that it's a strategic advantage, it's just a matter of playing the cards right," General Hallin said. "That's a way of moving to the next echelon here at the center in terms of supporting the warfighter -- opportunities to do more partnering with industry, opportunities to do more joint logistics and to drive the cost of operation down at the same time."