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The Air Force will cut thousands of headquarters jobs as it consolidates installations management across the service and aims to streamline base services and amenities for airmen.
The service announced July 14 that it will cut 3,459 positions in an effort to save $1.6 billion over the next five years.
The move comes following a directive from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to cut headquarters staff 20 percent from each military service.
“I will work to ensure the world’s best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in the announcement. “Everyone knows our economy is still not where it should be; we have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar adds value to the taxpayers and our national defense.”
The idea to reshape installation services came at last summer’s annual Corona meeting, where the service’s top officers meet to discuss high-level policy changes. Officers decided to model Air Force installation support after the Army and Navy, which have centralized commands to oversee base operations, said Maj. Gen. Theresa Carter, special assistant to the commander of Air Force Materiel Command, who oversaw creation of the new Air Force Installation Mission and Support Center.
The new office, reporting to AFMC, will handle base costs and program activities.
The change will reduce or eliminate installation support offices at each major command in an effort to reduce overhead and redundancies.
“This is one of the largest reorganization efforts the Air Force has decided to undertake within the past several decades,” Carter said in an interview with Air Force Times.
The Air Force has not announced the location of the new office, which will have a staff of about 350. This will correspond with a reduction of thousands of jobs at major command headquarters.
The reductions will be both civilian and military, with a push to meet the demands through voluntary measures such as retirements.
The largest reductions will be a cut of 742 positions at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and 522 positions at the Pentagon.
“I like to tell people that we’re not turning an on- off switch from on to off, it’s like a dimmer switch to dial down capacity as we are standing up [the new office],” Carter said.
One tangible change airmen will see is consistency across bases in services and amenities. Carter said.
For example, under sequestration, different bases cut back on different services.
One base would offer less child care services than another, potentially creating a problem for an airman making a permanent change of station.
With these services handled by one office, there will be more consistencies in what to expect, Carter said.
“Where I hope to have a positive impact is of what airmen will see in the fit, feel and finish quantity and quality of services provided,” Carter said. “Right now, we have significant differences between locations, between [major commands] and even within major commands based on the resources that the MAJCOM has to execute.
“You might have a MAJCOM under sequestration rules reduce family support, while another maintains a higher level of service. We saw a great difference in have and have- nots. In facilities, but more so in military member and family programs. There is a great difference between locations. The average soldier, sailor and Marine have more of a common idea of what they can expect.”
New Numbered Air Force
Another major change in the Air Force command structure was also announced, the creation of a new Numbered Air Force.
The Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, which had reported to Headquarters Air Force, will now become 25th Air Force.
It is the first new Numbered Air Force since 24th Air Force was authorized in 2009.
Twenty-fifth Air Force will report to Air Combat Command from new headquarters at Joint Base San Antonio and will oversee all ISR aircraft training and operations.
“When Air Force ISR forces are needed, we’ve established a simpler process through a single force provider; think of it as dialing 1-800-ISR to access our significant capabilities,” said Lt. Gen. Bob Otto, deputy chief of staff for ISR.