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Maj. Gen. Litchfied sets goal, reflects on workforce potential

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- He knows he's in a unique position and he's using it to his advantage. When Maj. Gen. Bruce Litchfield accepted command of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center in November, he already knew the workforce's capabilities; he'd seen it in action. He said setting his standard goal of "striving to be the best" wouldn't be enough. The new commander set the proverbial bar higher.

General Litchfield's goal for the center is for it to achieve its full and true potential. He said he wants the center to be unsurpassed in performance by anyone ... the OC-ALC will be world-class.

"Given the changes that we are seeing to our budget and declines we're inevitably going to face, what we need is a sense of urgency to reach our full potential," General Litchfield said. "We have to have the same sense of urgency to achieve our full potential as we do when we solve a problem.

"If there's a problem facing Tinker, this base will rally and respond with a sense of urgency unmatched anywhere. Now, can we take that sense of urgency to meet our potential? If we can, we can do more to buffer and cushion the decline that we're going see in budget and maintain our high levels of readiness that our Air Force is going to expect and demand," the general said. "No matter what work center you're in, your responsibilities or your role, we have to do our job more efficiently tomorrow than we do today... by a long shot."

When General Litchfield arrived at Tinker in the spring of 2009 to lead the 76th Maintenance Wing, he said he strived for excellence and aspired to build a championship team. In two years, he achieved his goal. The maintenance wing aced inspections, improved their processes and brought home prestigious awards.

In early May, the general moved on to his next assignment -- special assistant to the commander of Air Force Materiel Command at Tinker -- and was situated in the OC-ALC front office. There, he learned more about the air logistics center's inner-workings.

These days, he sees both the advantages and disadvantages of a seasoned Tinkerite leading the center.

The advantage is the learning curve is significantly less steep as he already knows the roles, responsibilities and capabilities. But the disadvantages are he has to accept that programs, processes and initiatives he introduced while he was maintenance commander may be changed. His successors may also reach accomplishments he could not. Additionally, he cannot overlook or ignore recurring issues.

The general likened overlooking an issue to a squeaky hinge in a house. After a couple of months, the noise isn't bothersome. The issue disappears or is accepted. As center commander, General Litchfield cannot let that pass as acceptable.

"What we do here is vitally important to the readiness of our Air Force and the capabilities of our warfighter," the general said. "Everybody at this center, regardless of where they work, is important to generating air power. Every day they come to work, they need to come with the attitude of, 'What I can I do to make it better?' Every night when they go home, they need to reflect on what they did that day and, more importantly, realize what they need to do tomorrow. There's someone counting on what they produce here."

As the air logistics center concept changes, General Litchfield said personnel need not worry. As the workforce sets the foundation for achieving its total and full potential, the general will make decisions that will ensure success. The general compared it to being in a lifeboat with the OC-ALC crew where his job is to keep the vessel afloat.

"I don't bring my knife into the life raft," the general said. "We're all in this together and to be successful, I have to ensure we're all rowing in the right direction."

While the new position will present challenges and difficult decisions, General Litchfield said he is honored to be the center commander and is humbled by the work that the workforce is producing and will produce.

"There is no other place I'd rather be or command," General Litchfield said. "The legacy of success and excellence at Tinker is absolutely tremendous, and to be able to be a commander here is a sense of honor for me. Every night when I go home, I know this is a privilege and not a right. I work for everyone here."