Former Tinker commander: Community support plays important role for airmen

Monday, August 10, 2015

By Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield
For The Oklahoman

I recently relinquished command of the Air Force Sustainment Center (AFSC) at Tinker Air Force Base and retired from the Air Force after 34 years. As I look back on my time as AFSC commander, one thing jumps to the top of the list of critical elements that enabled the command’s overwhelming success: Community support was, and is, so essential that without it, we would not have been able to fully support the breadth of the Air Force mission or take care of the phenomenal airmen who protect our nation.

The AFSC mission is to sustain Air Force weapon systems. I had the honor of standing up the command three years ago with the charge of integrating Air Force depot maintenance and supply chain operations, including depot operations at Tinker, Robins and Hill Air Force bases and Air Force supply organizations. The command is a huge operation driven by 35,000 dedicated men and women.

During my command, we went through growing pains of a new organization. We maneuvered through budget reductions, sequestration, civilian furloughs, a government shutdown and the ramp-up for the fight against ISIS. As we evolved, we never lost sight that Tinker is a strategic asset to our Air Force and the community as the largest single-site employer in Oklahoma.

Through it all, community support to our mission and airmen was spectacular. The extraordinary effort by local, state and federal leaders to acquire the BNSF railyard showed this. The addition of this 150-plus acres will soon be home to maintenance activities for the Air Force’s newest air refueling tanker — the KC-46. The BNSF acquisition, along with prior investment in the former General Motors plant, will form the bedrock of Tinker for the next 50 or more years.

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Litchfield retired Aug. 1 as commander of the Air Force Sustainment Center, Air Force Materiel Command, at Tinker Air Force Base.