TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
Brig. Gen. Jeff King has long considered himself a customer of the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. As a career aircraft maintenance officer, he said he has seen the impact of OC-ALC from all around the Air Force.
“They probably don’t see it or feel it here in Oklahoma, but they’re making a difference … from the Middle East, to Europe, to the Pacific or any one of our installations that generate air power with the weapon systems we support,” King said.
So, when the Air Force sent King to Oklahoma from Hawaii in the middle of a global pandemic, King said he was, “really jazzed about joining the OC-ALC team.” He took command of the complex this past July, and says his first three months have reinforced his belief that readiness starts in our depots. He said the Complex is filled with proud Americans working hard, side-by-side to support our warfighters in the field.
OC-ALC is one of three of its kind within the Air Force Sustainment Center; performing depot maintenance, repair, overhaul and modifications on an array of military aircraft, parts, engines and software for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and foreign military sales programs.
King says he is most impressed by the rapid advancements in technology being explored and implemented here. He says employees at Tinker are already embracing techniques such as cold-spray, plasma spray, and 3-D additive manufacturing techniques to combat diminishing sources of supply.
“It’s hard not to be excited when you go out and you see reverse-engineering experts scanning a part and then reproducing it,” he said. “Production here is smoking.”
King says he has three main goals: supporting the workforce, shoring-up Complex infrastructure requirements, and planning for future workloads.
For the present, he says he looks at things in terms of people, plant, production and partnerships. He cites years of under-investment in infrastructure and logistics to support other Air Force priorities, and that tradeoff is affecting readiness. His goal is to identify the areas that have languished and advocate for the resources to fortify them, but cautioned that efforts to modernize and recapitalize take time.
“Any wins we get on my watch will have been started by the Complex under (former commander) Brig. Gen. (retired) Chris Hill or (former commander) Maj. Gen. Tom Miller,” King said. “The things I help put in place will benefit the complex years after I’m gone. For commanders…It’s a relay, not a sprint.”
King says he subscribes to the guiding principles of new Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr.’s philosophy - “Accelerate, Change or Lose.” He says that, to succeed, the command has to figure out what the ALC of 2040 looks like and what investments need to be made now to get them there.
“The future gets here faster than we want, and foundational improvements can be slower than we need,” he said. “Infrastructure and sustainment dollars are harder to come by, so we have to be very deliberate in how we move forward. The Organic Industrial Board, spearheaded by the Air Force Sustainment Center, will be a huge enabler in securing the resources we need.”
As part of his strategy to accelerate change, King has already signed memorandums of agreement with two major Oklahoma universities to share expertise in metallurgy, chemistry, additive manufacturing and other vital capabilities. He hopes these types of exchanges will lead to a mutually beneficial sharing of intellectual capital to accelerate readiness improvements, and develop interest among budding engineers for a career with the Civil Service or in uniform.
“The ALC as thousands of people with decades of hands-on experience and world-class engineers, but they primarily swim in Air Force and Department of Defense lanes,” he said. “The idea is that we bring diverse minds together, not unlike the renaissance period when you had artists and sculptors come together at the same time from all over the world. That convergence of thought produced an explosion of creativity that changed the world. Accelerate change or lose…these partnerships will help us accelerate.”
Most of all, King says, he wishes he could take all of OC-ALC’s more than 10,000 military and civilian employees and put them in the field for even a day so they could see what he has witnessed first-hand for years as an ALC customer.
“When we send B-52s across the East China Sea or F-22s to intercept Russian bombers near Alaska, with KC-135 tankers and E3 AWACS supporting the effort, the ALC is part of that” he said. “We’re Welded Wingmen for our fielded forces. Readiness Starts Here...with the men and women of OC-ALC turning out quality aircraft, engines, parts and software. Our people rock, and it’s an honor to serve them!”