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New maintenance group commander taps supervisors to do the right thing

By Staff Sgt. C. Todd Lopez

SOUTHWEST ASIA (July 16, 2004) -- Colonel Rob Burnett Jr. assumed command of the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Group from Col. John Stankowski in a ceremony here Wednesday.

Colonel Burnett formerly served as deputy commander of the 347th Maintenance Group, Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

He will serve a one-year tour as commander of the 379th EMXG.

The new group commander is responsible for three maintenance squadrons.

Colonel Burnett’s first impression of the base was like that of many others upon seeing the installation for the first time.

“My first impression is that this is a busy place, with a lot going on,” he said. “Also, it’s hot… very hot. It was hot in Georgia, but not this hot.”

More important than weather was the colonel’s first impression of the men and women he now commands.

He said his perception is that the group is well run and managed. Still, the colonel said he sees challenges in commanding an expeditionary group. One of those challenges, he said, is the schooling of rotational Airmen in the expeditionary way of doing business.

“We have so many people rotating in and out,” he said. “Our biggest challenge is getting people acclimated and getting people used to the way we operate. There is a pretty steep learning curve for folks coming in and they have to learn it fast.”

The colonel’s solution for getting those Airmen ready to work in the fast-paced expeditionary environment is not novel — but it is pure Air Force.

“We’re going to work with supervisors to make sure people do things the right way,” the colonel said. “What I’m talking about is ensuring we utilize the technical orders and making sure people know how to follow that guidance. I want our Airmen to work to meet the mission requirements and at the same time maintain maintenance discipline.”

Colonel Burnett said he didn’t think the men and women of the 379th EMXG would have any problems meeting his expectations.

“We have the best people in the world in our Air Force,” he said. “Those people are our enlisted folks.”

A native of South Carolina, Colonel Burnett received his commission in 1980 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps at the Citadel in Charleston, S.C. After training at the aircraft maintenance officers course at Chanute Air Force Base, Ill., the colonel took an assignment at the 437th Military Airlift Wing, Charleston AFB, S.C.

Since leaving South Carolina, Colonel Burnett has served in Germany, at two command headquarters and at numerous Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command installations.