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Reorganization yields AETC’s first civil service maintenance group

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH-Texas -- The first civil service aircraft maintenance organization in AETC to become a group is the 12th Maintenance Group. An activation ceremony was held inside Hangar 41 at Joint Base San Antonio – Randolph, Feb. 10. The group was formerly a directorate.

“We have been working on this reorganization forever,” said Robert West, 12th Maintenance Group director. West and his team has spent six years on the initiative to transform an organization that supports pilot and combat systems officer training in two states.

The group has a squadron at Naval Air Station Pensacola and two squadrons at JBSA-Randolph. Each squadron is led by a civilian director.

“The Air Force organizes in wings, groups and squadrons so everything revolves around those types of units. We can officially take our place next to the 12th Operations Group and the 479th and the 306th Flying Training Groups instead of being a block of 600 manning positions of the wing staff,” West said.

The reorganization comes at a time when Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein has placed more focus on squadrons as “the basic building block organization in the Air Force.”

“It works right into the Chief’s plan. We were really getting tired of being a square peg in a round hole,” said West to a gathering of hundreds of civilian employees and Airmen from throughout the 12th Flying Training Wing.

“We have an identity, something to build a heritage around, and a structure that is recognized by everyone in the Air Force,” West said.

West believes name recognition will translate into more applicants for vital jobs maintaining airplanes.

“A lot of people, when they go into USA Jobs and they are looking for a maintenance job, they don’t know what a directorate is. Now they’ll see 12th Maintenance Group and they’ll say, ‘I know what that is and I want to do that job.’”

West expects maintenance directorates at Altus Air Force Base and Laughlin AFB may also reorganize as groups.