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(Content provided by Maj. Gen. (ret.) Ron Smith)
Prior to 1993, there was no Middle Georgia organization focused on dealing with threats to Robins AFB and/or ensuring the continued viability of the base. During the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, Robins Air Force Base, and the other installations hosting the other four Air Logistics Centers, was added to the BRAC list for evaluation…a shock to the entire Middle Georgia region, as well as to the entire State of Georgia. At the insistence of Senator Sam Nunn, the 21st Century Partnership was hurriedly formed to defend Robins and thus the Middle Georgia area during the critical BRAC process. That massive organizational effort was spearheaded by community leaders such as George Israel, Bob Hatcher, Paul Nagle, Ralph Nix, Eddie Wiggins, Sherrill Stafford, Jack Steed, and many others…with the sage counsel of Senator Sam Nunn.
Fortunately, the defense efforts of the fledgling 21st Century Partnership were successful as Robins AFB and the economy of Middle Georgia were sparred in 1993. And those community leaders wisely kept the organization intact because Robins Air Force Base, and the other installations hosting the other four Air Logistics Centers, was added to the 1995 BRAC list as well. As in 1993, Robins AFB and the economy of Middle Georgia were sparred. But two of the installations hosting the other four Air Logistics Centers were closed/realigned (Kelly AFB, TX and McClellan AFB, CA) as their respective Air Logistics Centers were closed. The military value of the base, and community, was once again evaluated in BRAC 2005. As in BRAC 1995, not only did Robins survive, but actually gained missions during BRAC 2005.
Fortunately, the 21st Century Partnership continued to defend and invoke positive actions to ensure the continued viability of the base. But equally important, the organizational structure, mission, and approach have matured tremendously; vaulting the Partnership to the elite class of defense community support organizations in the Nation and certainly in the State of Georgia.
This transformation began with a drastic shift of philosophy. That is: the best way to defend Robins is from an offensive standpoint vs. a defensive standpoint. The objective was straightforward–make Robins and Middle Georgia so attractive to decision makers for assignment of military missions that the base would expand and become so vital to the Nation’s defense posture, it would always be in a position to accept and execute new missions vs. just fighting to keep jobs in Middle Georgia. This approach caused focus and solutions to issues like encroachment; education; affordable/ suitable housing; child care; health care; air quality; workforce development; transportation access; quality of life for assigned personnel; cost of living; cost of operating an installation in Middle Georgia; capacity to grow; base-community partnerships; public private partnerships; collaboration with sister Air Force industrial operations; helping Robins execute their strategic plans; etc.
The transformation in philosophy also led to organization structure changes. While the original board structure has virtually remained in place, retired senior military officers were added as advisors; Executive Directors were added; a formal office front was established; a 501c3 was created; and in 2012 the organization transitioned to a CEO/COO construct. The first CEO was Major General (ret) Bob McMahon, former and last Commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center.
And the continued focused efforts have been more than successful as Middle Georgia has watched “their “ base expand…and their community grow. (Note: in 1995 there was about 18K people assigned to Robins AFB and in 2015 there was almost 22K personnel). This growth has occurred despite national attempts to privatize all government weapon system sustainment efforts; base closures and realignments; significant budget reductions; massive reductions in aircraft fleet sizes; etc.
George Israel; Jack Steed; Sherrill Stafford; Eddie Wiggins; Mark Byrd; Brad Fink
Former Senior Advisors:
Major General (ret.) Ron Smith; Major General (ret.) Rick Goddard
Former Chief Executive Officers:
Major General (ret.) Bob McMahon; Lieutenant General (ret.) Charlie Stenner
Former Chief Operating Officer:
Former Executive Directors:
Col (ret.) Ron Carbon; Mary Therese Grabowski; Col (ret.) Dan Penny