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State-by-state Air Force proposed job cuts

Mar. 8, 2012 - 11:06AM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 8, 2012 - 11:06AM  |  
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The Air Force is proposing net reductions of 3,900 active-duty, 5,100 Air National Guard and 900 Air Force Reserve positions nationwide and in several U.S. territories. Below is a list of reports on some states' cuts.

Alaska: F-16 move from Eielson would add 125 people to Elmendorf-Richardson

About 125 personnel would be added to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage under an Air Force plan to move a squadron of F-16 fighter jets from Fairbanks.

The Anchorage Daily News">reports the proposed move of F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base is part of a global Air Force effort to reduce costs, including reductions of 3,900 active-duty airman and 6,000 guardsmen and reservists.

The Air Force is proposing to move 21 F-16s from Eielson to the Anchorage base in fiscal year 2013.

Gov. Sean Parnell and the three members of Alaska's congressional delegation on Wednesday sent a letter to Air Force officials. According to a release, they ask the Air Force to "take a complete and comprehensive look at the proposed move."

The Associated Press

Arkansas: 188th Fighter Wing targeted by cuts

Proposed cuts in the Department of Defense's 2013 budget would eliminate 232 jobs from the Arkansas Air National Guard's 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that the budget proposal calls for the retirement of the Arkansas guard's A-10 "Warthog" fleet of aircraft at Fort Smith.

The budget calls for the 188th to switch from flying the A-10 jets to flying remotely piloted drones stationed around the world.

Under the proposal, the 19th Airlift Wing at the Little Rock Air Force Base would gain 370 servicemen.

A spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe says the governor feels the 188th is taking "a disproportional hit."

The Associated Press

Colorado: Schriever, Peterson may gain Reserve jobs

Colorado will have a net gain of 80 Air Force Reserve jobs as the military restructures amid a slowdown in defense spending.

Schriever Air Force Base will get most of the additional Colorado jobs announced Tuesday, with 24 full-time positions and 56 part-time. Peterson Air Force Base will gain one full-time position and one part-time. Buckley Air Force Base will lose two full-time positions.

Schriever and Peterson are in the Colorado Springs area. Buckley is in the Denver suburb of Aurora.

The Air Force says it's cutting 900 Reserve jobs nationwide and 3,000 jobs will change, requiring some reservists to move or commute to new locations.

The Air Force is shifting more emphasis to such specialties as space, cyberspace, intelligence and surveillance, areas where Colorado bases play a role.

The Associated Press

Delaware: Air Force proposes cutting 21 jobs

Delaware would lose 21 Air Force jobs by October 2013 as part of a military restructuring plan, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Dover Air Force Base would lose 10 civilian jobs and six active-duty military positions by the end of fiscal 2013. But it would see a net gain of 11 active-duty military positions over the two-year period beginning Oct. 1, 2011. The base also would gain three reservists and two civilians.

The Delaware Air National Guard would lose eight guardsmen at New Castle Air Base next fiscal year. It also is slated to lose three full-time active-duty positions, but they would be replaced by three full-time federal technician positions.

The cuts are part of $487 billion in reductions approved last year when Congress agreed to increase the nation's debt limit. The agreement also requires about $1 trillion in cuts over the next nine years unless Congress can come up with a plan to reduce the debt by that amount. Half of those cuts about $500 billion would come from the defense budget.

Staff Sgt. Chad Padgett, a spokesman for Dover, said the base has already reduced its civilian workers by 29 through attrition.

"We're going to continue to try to do that," he said.

Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, Delaware's adjutant general, also said the cuts will be managed through attrition.

Vavala said he isn't surprised by the recommendations, given the spending reductions Congress approved last year, and Delaware fared much better than other states. The cuts affect fewer than 1 percent of the 1,000 airmen who serve in the Delaware Air National Guard, he said.

But he said the Air National Guard is being cut disproportionately, and at an accelerated rate, compared to the active-duty Air Force.

"We feel a much better plan would have been to accomplish the reduction through attrition over the next 10 years," Vavala said.

The Air Force says it has already reduced its active-duty force to the point where further reductions would limit its ability to respond to multiple crises or sustain long commitments without asking all service members including guardsmen and reservists to deploy at unsustainable rates.

Before making cuts, Vavala said, the Air Force should study the kinds of air frames and personnel it needs and compare the cost of Guard units to the cost of active-duty units.

The Air National Guard costs $2.25 billion less annually than a similarly sized active-duty Air Force command, he said.

The chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. authored legislation that became law last year requiring cost-comparison studies.

"I think the Air Force approached this thing with an idea that it was time for the Guard to ante up," Vavala said. "I think a study has to be done because if you're looking for efficiencies, if you're looking for economies, then you should be looking to the Guard to be able to deliver it."

The pending budget cuts will reshape the military. Air Force officials plan to retire more than 200 aircraft in fiscal 2013, though none in Delaware.

Obama's proposed fiscal 2013 budget lays out a plan for implementing the first round of defense cuts. He has asked Congress for $525.4 billion for the Pentagon's base budget and $88.4 billion for war spending. That's down from a base budget of $530.6 billion and $115.1 billion in war spending in fiscal 2012.

Nicole Gaudiano, Gannett Washington Bureau

Illinois Air National Guard may lose 42 positions

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. The Illinois Air National Guard says it could lose several dozen positions if the 2013 federal budget is approved.

The guard says it would lose 34 traditional guardsmen positions, seven Air Guard Reserve positions and one full-time military technician. The changes come from guidelines issued by the Department of Defense and the fiscal 2013 federal budget. The cuts are pending President Barack Obama's approval of the budget.

Guard officials say the changes would affect all three wings of the Illinois Air National Guard. The losses would be spread across the 126th Air Refueling Wing at Scott Air Force Base, the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield and the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria.

Illinois guard officials say they have contacted the airmen who would be affected by the changes.

The Associated Press

Indiana: 152 jobs at Fort Wayne Air National Guard base may be cut

The Air Force is proposing to eliminate 152 jobs at the Indiana Air National Guard base in Fort Wayne as part of its plan to replace A-10 fighter jets there with reconnaissance aircraft.

The 122nd Fighter Wing said in a news release Tuesday it had been informed the cuts would include 85 full-time personnel. More than 1,200 people, including 364 full-time airmen, are assigned to the base.

Fort Wayne Base Community Council President Rob Young told The Journal Gazette that a support group for military families knew the news of the cuts was coming, but it didn't know what the numbers would be.

The Associated Press

Iowa: 492 Air Guard jobs may be cut

The Air Force on Tuesday asked Congress to eliminate 492 positions with the Des Moines-based 132nd, a 39 percent reduction in staffing, according to members of Iowa's congressional delegation who received briefings from Pentagon officials.

Air Force officials said last month they want to eliminate all 21 F-16 combat aircraft in Des Moines, but they didn't immediately provide specifics about future staffing levels. The Air Force said it recommended that a unit be established in the future at the Des Moines airport to remotely control unmanned combat aircraft. But the drone aircraft wouldn't be based in Des Moines. Instead, the aircraft would probably be located outside of the United States.

The announcement calls for eliminating 761 positions related to losing the F-16 aircraft, while gaining 239 positions by establishing an MQ-1/9 Remote Squadron at the Des Moines Air Guard Base. There would also be a gain of 34 positions from an Air National Guard "readiness offset." Overall strength at the Des Moines Air Guard Base would be reduced from 1,250 to 758 personnel, including full-time and part-time Guardsmen and civilian employees.

Congress will have the final say on the matter, and members of Iowa's congressional delegation have vowed to battle the Air Force's proposal. Forty-nine of the nation's governors last week signed a letter criticizing the Air Force's plan, saying the cuts in the Guard would be disproportionate to reductions facing full-time Air Force units. The reductions have also been criticized by National Guard leaders nationwide, including Maj. Gen. Tim Orr, adjutant general of the Iowa National Guard.

The Air Force has proposed eliminating $8.7 billion in spending, while retiring 303 aircraft worldwide. The overall Pentagon budget would slash nearly $32 billion in annual appropriations.

Supporters of the Air Guard said it is much less costly to operate than full-time Air Force units and it has more experienced pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel. Guard officials have said the Air Guard provides 35 percent of the Air Force's capability for 6 percent of the budget.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, issued a statement in response to the Air Force's announcement:

"Reversing this decision will take a concerted effort by National Guard advocates in Congress. So far, the effort has been significant, and there will be an opportunity to determine a different outcome when annual legislation to authorize defense spending is considered later this year.

"Fiscal responsibility and stewardship dictate that the Air Force should use a cost-benefit analysis that looks at the strengths and weaknesses of the active and reserve forces. It's not clear that such a process has been used, and the Air Force needs to account for its approach."

Gov. Terry Branstad said the cuts would dramatically alter the ability of the National Guard to respond to emergencies and protect citizens, such as the levee monitoring activities last summer along the Missouri River.

As co-chair of the Council of Governors, Branstad said he is leading a nationwide effort on behalf of the nation's governors to ensure that the complete value of the National Guard is reflected in national policy and the Pentagon budget. Branstad also said he is very appreciative of the initial response of the Iowa congressional delegation and will continue to work with members of Congress, fellow governors, their adjutants general and the Air Force to find alternative solutions to maximize capabilities at the lowest possible cost.

"We can best manage and execute responses to emergencies, and better protect our citizens here at home and abroad by empowering the National Guard," Branstad said. "To cut this efficient, low-cost, and effective response force in the name of cost savings is short-sighted. We should rely on the National Guard more, not less."

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said: "Today's announcement is nothing short of appalling. The Iowa Air National Guard's 132nd Fighter Wing is one of the most experienced and best performing fighter wings in the Air Force. In this time of economic hardship, I have called on the Air Force to fully explain how they would plan on supporting the men and women and the families of those whose jobs would be eliminated under their proposal. I will continue to fight against any budget proposal that negatively affects the Iowa Air National Guard."

Air Force officials, in a recent guidance memo announcing plans to eliminate F-16s in Des Moines, said Guard and Reserve forces have been a "superb investment." But an Air Force analysis concluded that active-duty Air Force units have been reduced to the point that further reductions would limit the nation's ability to respond quickly to multiple crises or to sustain long commitments without asking active-duty Guard and Reserve forces to deploy at rates that cannot be sustained by airmen and their families.

Maj. Gen. Edward Bolton Jr., deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for budget, told reporters at a recent Pentagon briefing: "We understand that the Air Force must do its part to reduce spending and have made the difficult choices necessary to achieve those savings. We firmly believe this is not a choice between national security and fiscal responsibility, and this budget starts the transformation of the Air Force in support of a new defense strategy constrained by limited resources."

Central Iowa business and government leaders have rallied around the 132nd Fighter Wing, promising to employ a lobbying strategy with Congress that emphasizes the experience and the cost-effectiveness of the Des Moines Guard unit. A group of about 20 local leaders met in February at the Des Moines airport with Orr and Rep. Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, a former Army helicopter pilot whose district includes the Des Moines unit.

The 132nd Fighter Wing dates to 1941 with the establishment of the 124th Observation Squadron in Des Moines. The wing has 332 airmen who work full time, while the rest of its members are traditional part-time guardsmen. About a fourth of the unit is now deployed in Afghanistan.

President Obama's proposed fiscal 2013 budget adjusts Air Force military end strength to 501,000.

According to Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force's strategy is to apply resources to the people, programs and systems that will best contribute to the new DoD strategic guidance.

"Working with our Guard and Reserve leaders, we used a balanced approach to adjust our Total Force end strength while maintaining the ability to execute strategic guidance," Schwartz said. "Our Total Force programmed reductions follow detailed assessments of future conflict scenarios and rotational requirements consistent with the new strategic guidance."

Here are comments issued by other members of Iowa's congressional delegation in response to the announcement:

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa: "Calling for the elimination of this many jobs from our states is nothing short of unconscionable particularly given the countless missions and deployments that have been made over the last decade. The 132nd Fighter Wing in Des Moines has been recognized as one of the top performing units in the country. It simply makes no sense to take away its mission and cut it so deeply. To date, the Air Force has failed to satisfactorily answer a single question posed about this decision since rumors of this proposal first surfaced. The Air Force has failed to demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of cutting so deeply into the guard and reserve personnel, decommissioning the 132nd Fighter Wing, or any other guard unit or the impact any of it will have on local communities. The National Guard and Reserve provide a great benefit to the nation at a lower cost than the active component. They work seamlessly alongside the active military when called to duty, while also remaining flexible and ready to help at home when needed in crisis or natural disaster. Now that Congress has the Air Force's full proposal, I will consult with the rest of the Iowa delegation on our next steps to address our concerns."

Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa: "The elimination of nearly 500 positions within the Iowa National Guard's 132nd F-16 Fighter Wing is painful news for the regional economy and, especially, the men and women who depend on those jobs to support themselves and their families. The justification given for eliminating these positions has been vague and imprecise, and it's become apparent that a sound cost-benefit analysis did not factor into the decision.

"It is irresponsible to design the nation's entire Air Force structure by jamming together pieces of a puzzle that just don't fit. The 132nd Fighter Wing counts among its ranks some of the most experienced F-16 pilots and maintainers in the force, with around four times the amount of flying time and years of experience as their active duty counterparts. The fighter wing has served our country with distinction and honor. We owe it to the American people to scrap this misguided plan and start over with a process that promises the result of an accountable plan based on truths, real facts, solid data, and maintaining the capabilities that are key to our national security in the years ahead."

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa: "At a time when the American people are demanding that their tax dollars be stretched as far as possible, it makes no sense to cut the National Guard," said King. "The Guard is an extremely effective and efficient component of our nation's military, and Iowa's Guard units are among the best in the country. The Air Force still has much to explain about the basis for its decision to remove the 132nd's F-16s and the nearly 500 positions that go with them, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House, Senators Grassley and Harkin, and Governor Branstad to demand answers and action."

William Petroski, Des Moines (Iowa) Register

Kansas: More than 25 Air Guard jobs may be cut

Budget cuts announced by the Defense Department will cost the Kansas Air National Guard about 25 employees.

The state's adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, said the 184th Intelligence Wing in Wichita will lose 23 full-time positions and two part-time positions. Two part-time positions with the 190th Air Refueling Wing in Topeka will also be cut.

Tafanelli said in a news release that the state had expected to lose some jobs after the budget cuts were announced.

DoD announced earlier this year it would cut $487 billion over the next 10 years.

The Kansas National Guard has 5,300 Army Guard members, 2,200 Air Guard members, 36 armories and two air wings.

The Associated Press

Louisiana: Proposal to cut Barksdale-based A-10 unit

The Air Force's latest budget proposal would eliminate the 917th Fighter Group, a reserve unit of 580 people at Barksdale Air Force Base, by the end of next year its 50th anniversary.

Col. John Breazeale, the 917th's commander, says the proposal calls for retiring 21 of the unit's A-10 "Warthog" jets and moving the remaining three to Whiteman Air Force Base.

He said Wednesday that that would close the 917th, and the airmen would be moved to different units.

It has 409 part-time reservists and 171 technicians whose part-time reserve work is linked to full-time Defense Department jobs. That's about one-fifth of the reservists and about one-quarter of the technicians stationed at Barksdale.

Breazeale says the 917th has about 150 people in Afghanistan right now.

The Associated Press

Massachusetts: More than 300 jobs may be eliminated

Massachusetts stands to lose more than 300 jobs at Air Force facilities under cuts announced by the Defense Department.

The cuts announced Tuesday for the 2013 fiscal year that starts Oct. 1 include the loss of more than 150 jobs at Hanscom Air Force Base near Bedford, more than 100 of which are civilian jobs.

Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod is also in line to lose about 170 jobs.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray says the state is working on making "the strongest possible case to keep ... military personnel on the job. He says the proposal has "significant national security and economic implications."

The Associated Press

Michigan: Air Force looks to cut 652 Air Guard jobs

The Michigan Air National Guard would lose at least 652 jobs, including about 70 in Battle Creek, under an Air Force proposal released Tuesday that details manpower reductions tied to aircraft changes announced last month.

"Michigan just continues to end up losing," said Maj. Gen. Greg Vadnais, Michigan's adjutant general.

The biggest proposed cuts in Michigan are at least 561 jobs that would be cut at the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township, which is losing 21 A-10 fighters.

Figures released by the Air Force show slightly higher job losses at Selfridge and Battle Creek, but Vadnais says the Air Force double-counted some jobs being cut.

Most of the changes at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base are expected to happen next year. The base currently has 986 positions, not all of which are filled.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he has asked the Pentagon to explain the methodology and justification of the plans. Levin said he plans to question the military and civilian heads of the Air Force about the proposal at a hearing later this month.

The Air Force wants to replace the Guard's planned C-27J cargo aircraft mission at Battle Creek with unmanned aerial vehicles. The drones would not be housed at Battle Creek only the pilots would. That puts the Battle Creek base at risk for possible closure if Congress agrees to the Pentagon's request for two rounds of base closings, according to Vadnais.

"We're obviously concerned about what [base closings] could mean for our community and our bases, particularly now Battle Creek because there's no airplanes flying in or out of there," Vadnais said.

Michigan ranked third from the bottom in the percentage of states' federal funding that came from defense spending in 2010.

The proposed cuts are part of $487 billion in reductions approved last year when Congress agreed to increase the nation's debt limit. The agreement also requires about $1 trillion in cuts over the next nine years unless Congress can come up with a plan to reduce the debt by that amount. Half of those cuts about $500 billion would come from the defense budget.

The pending budget cuts will reshape the military. Air Force officials plan to retire more than 200 aircraft in fiscal 2013. They also plan to cut about 3,900 active-duty, 5,100 Air National Guard and 900 Air Force Reserve members. The Army will shrink from 547,000 active-duty soldiers to 490,000, and the Marine Corps will be cut by 20,000 to 182,000. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also plans to close excess military bases as the Pentagon did in 2005 and retire seven lower-priority Navy cruisers.

President Obama's proposed fiscal 2013 budget lays out a plan for implementing the first round of defense cuts. He has asked Congress for $525.4 billion for the Pentagon's base budget and $88.4 billion for war spending. That's down from a base budget of $530.6 billion and $115.1 billion in war spending in fiscal 2012.

Most of the nation's governors, including Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, complained in a recent letter to Panetta that the Air National Guard is being cut disproportionately. The governors said the Air National Guard is absorbing 59 percent of the cuts in aircraft and six times the per capita personnel cuts.

Asked about the governors' concerns last week, Panetta told the House Budget Committee that the Air Guard focused on retiring planes that are single-mission.

But, Panetta added, the Pentagon tried to mitigate the impact of some of the reductions in planes being retired, such as replacing them with aircraft like drones that are necessary for the future.

The governors and state adjutant generals also argue that the Air Guard can be more cost effective than the Air Force. They contend that the Air Guard provides 35 percent of the Air Force's capability for 6 percent of the budget.

"There's no question about who can provide the capabilities in the most cost effective manner," Vadnais said. "All the data that we have is compelling and irrefutable."

The chairmen of the Senate National Guard Caucus Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. authored legislation that became law last year requiring cost-comparison studies.

Leahy stressed that the Air Force proposal has a long way to go and that he and Graham, the other co-chair, will be negotiating with the Pentagon.

"Let's see what's happens," Leahy said. "In the meantime I suspect there will be a lot of behind-the-scenes negotiating."

Leahy said having a well-equipped and trained Guard could save money.

"We [he and Graham] both expect to save money," he said. "But it's one thing to save money. It's another thing to weaken our defense."

Maureen Groppe, Gannett Washington Bureau

Mississippi: Nearly 400 positions would go

Mississippi's Air Force bases would lose nearly 400 positions next year, mostly due to the loss of the C-27J military transport aircraft at Key Field Air Guard Station, under a plan proposed by the Air Force.

The plan calls for cutting 276 Air National Guard drill positions and 121 active-duty positions in fiscal 2013. A total 615 positions would be lost for the period covering fiscal 2012 and fiscal 2013, according to the report.

Earlier this year, Air Force officials outlined plans next year to retire six C-27J planes at Key Field in Meridian. Air Force officials plan to save money by retiring 200 aircraft in fiscal 2013.

Officials said the C-27J squadron will be replaced in fiscal 2014 by nine to 11 MC-12 surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft. Some personnel from the C27J squadron may take some of those positions, officials said.

Officials also plan to cut 10 C-130J planes at Keesler Air Force Base in fiscal 2014 and one C-5A plane at Key Field in fiscal 2015.

Key Field would lose more positions next year than other Mississippi bases. Keesler would lose 118 active-duty positions, including 10 civilians.

The proposed cuts would take effect by Sept. 30, 2013. The Air Force plan would add five part-time drill reserve positions and five air reserve technician/civilian positions at Keesler.

Officials would cut 26 active guard and reserve positions at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport Air Guard Station.

The Jackson Air Guard Station would lose three positions, including one civilian and two part-time drill reserve positions.

The National Guard Association of the United States and the National Governors Association have complained that the proposed cuts would disproportionately affect the National Guard and Air National Guard.

"Here we are trying to save money, and what are we doing, we cut the most experienced, most efficient force," said John Goheen, a spokesman for the association.

Mississippi lawmakers agreed.

"National security is a federal responsibility, and our armed forces must maintain the ability to respond to threats around the world," said Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "As the Pentagon works to cut spending, it must not jeopardize the readiness of our troops."

The office of Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Miss., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the congressman has worked closely with officials at Keesler and the Pentagon to make sure the impacts don't threaten national security.

Deborah Barfield, Gannett Washington Bureau

Missouri: 40 jobs at 139th Airlift Wing may be cut

Budget cuts to the Defense Department could cost Missouri several military positions. An Air Force news release on Tuesday said the Missouri Air National Guard's 139th Airlift Wing at Rosecrans Memorial Airport near St. Joseph could lose 27 Guard positions and 11 civilian technicians next year. That is in addition to the reduction of two aircraft announced earlier.

Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., said the Air Force also has proposed cutting over 200 jobs at the Air National Guard unit at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis and more than 40 civilian Air Force jobs at Whiteman Air Force Base, according to KMOX.

Defense budget cuts announced by President Obama in February will result in a weaker military and send airmen to unemployment lines, Akin said.

The Associated Press

Montana: Air National Guard may lose 144 positions

The Montana Air National Guard will lose 144 positions in fiscal year 2013, according to an Air Force manpower report.

Maj. Tim Crowe, chief of public affairs for the Montana National Guard, said a reduction was expected as a result of the planned conversion from F-15 fighter jets to C-130 cargo planes in the coming year. However, the number of reductions was not known until Tuesday.

"This is a pretty fresh document for us," Crowe said. "It's going to take us a while to understand exactly all that is in this document."

"Certainly, the F-15 mission is a fairly robust manning document, one of the most robust in the Air Force inventory," Crowe added, noting that a cargo-transport mission does not require that type of manpower.

Crowe said that while the manning document lists the reduction generically such as a reduction from 97 active Guard and Reserve positions to 58, a drop in active military positions from 2 to 1, a 45-person cut in Guard members drilling at MANG and a 60-position reduction in the civilian workforce it does not say what units, squadrons or specific positions will be cut. More guidelines on those types of specifics are expected when more manning documents are released in April, according to Crowe.

"Those are kind of the things we just don't know what that means," he said of the reductions listed by number in the manning document. "Certainly you have an urge to speculate, but that's not what we need to be doing at this point."

Great Falls (Mont.) Tribune

New York: Air Force proposes cutting 997 jobs at Niagara Falls

An Air Force plan released Tuesday would eliminate 997 jobs at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in fiscal 2013.

As part of the Air Force's budget plan, the service is proposing to reduce its aircraft inventory by 227, including several C-130 cargo planes based at Niagara Falls.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and members of the state congressional delegation are protesting the cuts, arguing that western New York is bearing too large a share of the reductions.

"The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is an essential part of our nation's military force, and we will not rest in the effort to find a new mission," Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both D-N.Y., said in a joint statement with Reps. Brian Higgins, Kathy Hochul and Louise Slaughter, all D-N.Y.

Last week, Cuomo wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urging him to find a new mission for Niagara Falls' 107th Airlift Wing in order to minimize the job cuts. Cuomo suggested the base be assigned "an alternative or emerging mission such as a digital ground control station and targeting."

New York stands to lose 1,100 Air Guard jobs and absorb 20 percent of all Air Force personnel cuts, the governor estimated.

Under the Air Force's plans for fiscal 2013, Stewart Air National Guard Base Airport near Newburgh would gain 17 Air National Guard positions while Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse would lose two and Francis S. Gabreski Air Guard Station on eastern Long Island would lose six. Staffing numbers beyond fiscal 2013 have not been released.

Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, chairman of the board of the National Guard Association of the United States, said Tuesday the Air National Guard is being cut disproportionately, and at an accelerated rate, compared to the active-duty Air Force. A better plan would have been to reduce personnel through attrition over the next 10 years, he said.

Vavala suggested the Air Force should study the kinds of air frames and personnel it needs and compare the cost of Guard units to the cost of active-duty units.

Legislation enacted by Congress last year requires the military to conduct cost-comparison studies.

The Air Force cuts are part of $487 billion in reductions approved last year when Congress agreed to increase the nation's debt limit. The agreement also requires about $1 trillion in cuts over the next nine years unless Congress can come up with a plan to reduce the debt by that amount. Half of those cuts about $500 billion would come from the defense budget.

Brian Tumulty, Gannett Washington Bureau

North Dakota: Cuts would mean loss of manned flying mission

The North Dakota Air National Guard would not see any job cutbacks under the Air Force's proposed fiscal 2013 budget, but it would lose a manned flying mission.

The Guard said North Dakota would become the only state without an Air National Guard manned flying mission.

The Fargo-based 119th Wing would not get C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft as planned. The Spartan program has been canceled. The wing also is losing its current C-21 Learjet mission next year. The Happy Hooligans would continue to operate Predator drones, and the wing would get an intelligence mission.

Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, the state's adjutant general, said state leaders will do what they can to "aggressively pursue" a manned flying mission for the 119th, which retired its F-16 fighter jets in 2007.

The Associated Press

Ohio: 179th Airlift Wing may be cut

The 179th Airlift Wing and 800 jobs at the Mansfield base are recommended for elimination in a budget proposal released Tuesday by the Air Force.

The Air Force's fiscal year 2013 budget request includes closing the Mansfield Air National Guard Base as part of a broader effort to control defense spending.

The future of the base has been unclear since the Pentagon announced plans in January to cut the C-27J aircraft program, a plane flown by the 179th Airlift Wing.

There was hope a replacement flying mission might be identified to keep the base open. That hope at least for now appears to have been crushed.

"It's not good news, but this is just a proposal by the Air Force at this point," said Col. Gary A. McCue, commander of the 179th Airlift Wing. "This is where the fight begins in Congress."

The Air Force has proposed reducing its force structure by a total of 9,900 military personnel. The plan would reduce Ohio's military force structure by 1,216 authorized positions most of which would come from Mansfield.

"If the plan goes through, we will lose our air base," McCue said. "We're on city property leased by the federal government, so I guess it would go back to Mansfield."

Mansfield has had an Air National Guard unit since 1948.

"The average guardsman is 15 cents on the dollar of what an active duty member costs," McCue said. "We really want the Air Force to show us the math on how cutting these people in the Guard and these airplanes is a good move for taxpayers. It doesn't make sense."

McCue will be in Washington most of this week to meet with political leaders and attend committee hearings about proposed defense cuts. Ohio's congressional delegation has vowed to work together to fight defense cuts in the state.

"I was very disappointed to see the Air Force's proposal to eliminate 800 positions at the 179th Airlift Wing," Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Tuesday, also criticizing the proposed elimination of the C-27J aircraft program.

Portman called on President Obama's administration to explain the proposed defense cuts.

"Their ‘balanced approach' takes 12 percent of their uniformed personnel cuts from Ohio, while the state is home to well under 3 percent of all Air Force active, Reserve and Guard airmen," Portman said. "Clearly, there is something out of balance."

The 200th Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operational Repair Squadron Engineers (Red Horse) unit would remain operational in Mansfield if the 179th Airlift Wing is eliminated. A new, multimillion dollar Red Horse facility and Armed Forces Reserve Center was opened last fall.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, remains opposed to the proposed defense cuts in Ohio, said spokeswoman Meghan Dubyak.

"Brown has been actively monitoring proposed Air National Guard personnel changes, which follow a bipartisan agreement to reduce the deficit by $2 trillion over the next 10 years," Dubyak said. "While Brown believes that the federal government must tighten its belt, he believes there are better ways to reduce the deficit."

Mansfield business leaders have launched a letter-writing campaign as part of a grassroots effort to help the city base avoid losing its C-27J aircraft program and the 179th Airlift Wing.

The nonprofit Richland Community Development Group created a "Save the C-27J" link">on its website to allow residents to easily contact their legislators. More than 1,300 people have visited the "Save the C-27J" webpage through Monday, according to the development group.

McCue said he appreciates the community's support.

"We really want to get the word out that now is the time to act," he said.

Bryan Bullock, Mansfield (Ohio) News Journal

Oklahoma: 600-person Tinker unit will be deactivated

The Air Force said Tuesday it is deactivating a communications unit at Tinker Air Force Base that employs about 600 people, a loss that Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., said will be devastating.

Air Force Space Command officials said the 3rd Combat Communications Group at Tinker will be deactivated as part of overall changes within the Air Force. The unit provides communications, computer systems, navigational aids and air traffic control.

"We made a deliberate decision to avoid a ‘hollow force' by prioritizing readiness over force structure," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said. "A smaller, ready force is preferable to a larger force that is ill-prepared because it lacks adequate resources."

The Air Force's plans were revealed earlier Tuesday by Inhofe, a member of Senate Armed Services Committee who said eliminating the unit known as the Third Herd could hurt national security.

"While additional cuts from the Air Force were expected, completely doing away with the Third Herd at Tinker is extremely disappointing," Inhofe said in a statement. "These cuts, including the elimination of the Third Herd, an award winning group with a rich history of fighting for this country, jeopardize our future capability at a time of international insecurity."

Gov. Mary Fallin said Oklahoma's Air Force bases are important parts of their local communities and play a vital role in the nation's defense.

"The decision to eliminate hundreds of military and civilian Air Force personnel will mean Oklahoma will lose jobs and the United States Air Force will be without quality units like the Third Herd," Fallin said.

The Air Force announcement said deactivation of the Tinker unit is in accordance with President Obama's call to shrink the military.

"The Air Force is reducing deployable communications capabilities to match the reduction in combat air forces," said Col. Joseph Scherrer, 689th Combat Communications Wing commander. The cuts are the biggest so far at an Oklahoma military base as the Defense Department adjusts to new budget priorities.

Inhofe accused Obama of attempting to disarm the military.

"Since taking office, President Obama has continued to cut our military year after year," Inhofe said. "At the same time he has run up over $5 trillion in deficit spending."

Fallin said Obama is cutting military spending while the cost of entitlements and social programs continue to rise.

"This is yet another instance of misplaced priorities and a policy agenda that is dangerously out of touch," she said.

So far, Tinker Air Force Base has lost 948 military and civilian jobs, including the 600 job losses announced Tuesday, Inhofe said. Altus Air Force Base has lost 109 jobs; Vance Air Force Base has lost 31 jobs; and 43 jobs have been cut from military units based at Will Rogers World Airport, he said.

"I will do all I can to fight these cuts," Inhofe said.

While it is eliminating the unit at Tinker, the Air Force said it will maintain another combat communications unit through the 5th Combat Communications Group at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

The Air Force statement did not say when the Tinker unit will be deactivated but indicated airmen in it will be reassigned.

"Our primary responsibility right now is to take care of our airmen and their families in the 3CCG as they begin to transition to other units," Scherrer said.

A spokesman for Tinker, Brion Ockenfels, had no immediate comment.

The Associated Press

Pennsylvania: Air Force positions may be reduced by 25 percent

The Air Force plans to cut about 1,623 positions at bases throughout Pennsylvania to comply with long-term budget reductions.

An Air Force document released Tuesday lists an overall 25 percent reduction in the state, but with significant variations.

The 911th Air Wing outside of Pittsburgh is scheduled to close entirely and lose 1,451 positions, while the Willow Grove base in Montgomery County would gain about 91 positions. The numbers include civilian and military personnel.

Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., and other members of Congress are asking the Air Force to delay or limit the cuts, most of which are scheduled for 2013.

The Associated Press

Vermont: Staff gains, losses in proposed Air Force restructuring

Vermont Air National Guard officials are planning to outline staffing changes at the South Burlington base as a result of a new Air Force staffing proposal.

The number of personnel at the Vermont Air Guard base is expected to increase by six full-time positions by October 2013.

However, that gain comes mostly from replacing full-time guardsmen with active-duty personnel.

The Vermont Air National Guard would gain 52 active-duty associates and 14 Air National Guard civilian technicians. But they would be replacing 60 guardsmen on full-time status. Those guardsmen would be returning to traditional part-time status, serving one weekend a month and two weeks per year.

The Associated Press

Wisconsin: Up to 114 positions could be cut from Air National Guard

The Wisconsin Air National Guard could lose as many as 114 positions under proposed Air Force cuts.

Officials previously learned that the Wisconsin Air Guard fleet would be reduced by three planes but until Tuesday's announcement no one knew how many jobs would be affected, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

If the budget proposal is enacted by Congress, the Wisconsin Air Guard would lose about 5 percent of its positions. There are 2,290 airmen in the Wisconsin Guard.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, the state's adjutant general, called the news "sobering." Dunbar said that the personnel cuts were larger than anticipated and must be implemented by Oct. 1.

Dunbar plans to handle cuts, which would include 16 full-time positions, through attrition.

The Associated Press

Wyoming: 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron targeted in cuts

A unit of the Wyoming Air National Guard is being targeted in national defense budget cuts. Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner, the state's adjutant general, said the Air Force is proposing to cut the Guard's 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.

The Wyoming Guard unit has 87 members consisting of flight nurses, aeromedical evacuation technicians, communications operators and various medical service personnel. Its mission is to evacuate wounded, injured and ill people aboard any Defense Department aircraft.

The Wyoming Guard will do what it can to reintegrate the unit's members into other units, Reiner said.

The squadron was activated in 1962 and has been involved in every military operation since Vietnam.

The Associated Press

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