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Force structure changes affect 14 states

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Sylvia Saab)

WASHINGTON -- The Air Force plans to retire 82 Air Force Reserve Command aircraft and make other changes in the command in the next few years, according to Pentagon officials Feb. 3. States impacted are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Called the "Air Force Strategy and Force Structure Overview," the Air Force plans to rebalance its overall ratio of Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard forces at about 60 installations in 33 states and retire 227 aircraft to support a new defense strategy and the president's budget proposal for fiscal year 2013.

"We're going to do everything we can to take care of our people as these changes occur," said Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., chief of Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon and AFRC commander at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. "We're putting together programs to retain as many of our reservists as possible."

One of the biggest changes for the Air Force Reserve Command is the planned closure of the 911th Airlift Wing, Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, Pa. If the 911th AW is deactivated, the Pittsburgh ARS is expected to close. However, the Pittsburgh Air National Guard Base is planned to remain operational.

Faced with austere budget times, the Air Force is refocusing and reducing the size of its forces to comply with the president's new defense strategy and the Budget Control Act's requirements to cut $487 billion from the defense budget over the next 10 years.

The Air Force's share is about $54 billion - and those cuts may grow.

"The president and the Department of Defense have directed our new Defense Strategy Guidance," Stenner said. "Now our Air Force has to set priorities and make some tough choices to rebalance our forces and realign with the new strategy."

To achieve these goals, the Air Force is planning significant organizational changes. AFRC's portion of the cuts includes reducing its inventory by 61 airlift and aerial-refueling aircraft, as well as, 21 fighter jets.

This will retire the Air Force's oldest aircraft, make room for newer models, and consolidate similar types of aircraft at common locations as much as possible. Changes in AFRC structure include:

Barksdale AFB, La. - Drawdown one Air Force Reserve Command squadron by retiring 18 A-10 aircraft as part of the FY13 president's budget. Also, retire three other A-10s in fiscal 13 that were previously slated for retirement and awaiting to be transferred. Transfer three remaining A-10s to Whiteman AFB, Mo. End the active associate unit that hosts Regular Air Force Airmen and flies A-10 aircraft with the AFRC A-10 squadron The Air Force Reserve unit that flies B-52 aircraft remains operational at Barksdale.

Dobbins ARB, Ga. - Retire seven C-130H2 aircraft and add 10 C-130J aircraft during FY14.

Keesler AFB, Miss. - Transfer 10 C-130J aircraft to new location in FY14. Although the active associate unit ends as part of the FY13 President's Budget, the Air Force Reserve unit remains operational.

Lackland AFB, Texas - Retire 16 C-5A aircraft from FY13 through FY16. Close the C-5A training school. Add eight C-5M aircraft in FY15.

Little Rock AFB, Ark. - Retire two C-130H2 aircraft in FY17. Unit remains operational.

March ARB, Calif. - Retire one KC-135 aircraft in FY13. Unit remains operational.

Maxwell AFB, Ala. - Drawdown one squadron by retiring seven C-130H2 aircraft in FY14. Unit remains operational.

Minneapolis-St. Paul ARS, Minn. - Drawdown one squadron by transferring eight C-130H3 aircraft in FY 13. The Air Force Reserve unit remains operational even though the air reserve station is transferred from the Air Force Reserve to the Air National Guard.

Niagara Falls, ARS, N.Y. - The air reserve component associate unit - composed of Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard -- ends as part of the FY13 president's budget. The Air Force Reserve retires three C-130H2 aircraft in FY13 and eight more in FY17. However, eight C-130H3 aircraft are planned to be added to the Air Force Reserve unit during FY13.

Pittsburgh ARS, Pa. - Drawdown one squadron by retiring six C-130H2 aircraft and transferring one C-130H2 in FY13. Air Force Reserve operations end and the Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station closes. However, Pittsburgh Air National Guard Base remains open.

Pope Field, N.C. - Retire one C-130H2 aircraft and add one C-130H2 in FY13.

Tinker AFB, Okla. - Retire four KC-135 aircraft in FY13; however, unit remains operational.

Westover ARB, Mass. - Transfer eight C-5Ms in FY16. Unit remains operational.

Youngstown-Warren ARS, Ohio - Retire six C-130H2 aircraft and add four C-130H2.5 aircraft.

"Our future plans must ensure the Total Force can fulfill the nation's need for daily operations and a surge force in the new strategy," Stenner said. "DOD's goal is to balance force structure reductions with our ability to project power globally and to maintain our force readiness."

The Air Force is scheduled to announce manpower changes caused by these structure changes in the next few weeks.

In order for the planned reductions to take effect, they must be approved by Congress and signed into law by the president.

"We worked closely with our Regular Air Force and Air Guard partners to rebalance our Total Force team," Stenner said. "In order to make our Air Force smaller, all three components had to find efficiencies and reductions - to get smaller together."