Air Force Officials Announce Cuts, Niagara Falls Air Reserve May Lose Jobs

March 6, 2012 Updated Nov 11, 2013 at 9:57 AM EDT

By WKBW News

...

Air Force Officials Announce Cuts, Niagara Falls Air Reserve May Lose Jobs

March 6, 2012 Updated Nov 11, 2013 at 9:57 AM EDT

3/6/2012 - WASHINGTON, D.C. (AFNS/ WKBW) -- Air Force officials released force structure changes and resulting manpower impacts from the new Department of Defense ( DoD ) strategic guidance and fiscal 2013 President's Budget Mar. 6.

The fiscal 2013 President's Budget adjusts Air Force military end strength to 501,000, with net reductions of 3,900 Active Duty, 5,100 Air National Guard and 900 Air Force Reserve billets.

For the Niagara Falls Air Reserve, preliminary numbers indicate up to 987 jobs could potentially be cut.

The base would also lose 3 C-130 aircraft.

These cuts would have to be approved by Congress.

In a release obtained by Eyewitness News from the Niagara Military Affairs Counsel, Chairman Merrell Lane and Vice Chairman John A. Cooper stated, "With the Pentagon's announcement today, the long and proud 76 year history of the 107th Air National Guard at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station faces potential elimination.

The release went on, "Today's announcement raises serious and substantial questions for the Pentagon. Where is the objective, transparent, and defendable process which led to this decision, and by what metrics was the 107th selected for this fate rather than for a new mission which the 107th would have embraced, and in which they would excel?"

"The citizen soldiers of the 10th who are friends and neighbors who are friends and neighbors that have sacrificed on so many occasions to defend our country, deserve a better result than to fall victim to a budget balancing effort by the Pentagon."

"NIMAC wishes to thank the hard work and diligence of Representative Kathy Hochul, our two Senators, and the Governor, hwo reached out personally and directly to the highest levels of the Government on behalf of the 107th, to include Secretary of Defense Panetta, and the White House.

Chairman Lane affirmed that, "we've seen dark days before, and we have emerged victorious. Today's announcement simply underscores that we as a community must come together, as before, to protect the men and women of the Niagara Air Reserve Station, and as we (have) done in the past, we'll find a way to succeed together.

A news conference will be held at Noon Wednesday at the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency in Sanborn, N.Y.

The government report on the Air Force site continues....

According to the Air Force Chief of Staff, 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," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said. "Our Total Force programmed reductions follow detailed assessments of future conflict scenarios and rotational requirements consistent with the new strategic guidance."

The Air Force is also announcing manpower changes on unit manpower documents resulting from the previously announced force structure reduction of 227 aircraft as well as additional adjustments not tied to aircraft. These changes primarily include the inactivation of a combat communications group and several air control squadrons, as well as right-sizing Air Force bands.

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

Achieving the right Active and Reserve Component manpower balance became a priority under the new strategic guidelines for the Air Force's future. Since then, the governors have been given an opportunity to provide input to the plan as Reserve Component force structure reductions directly or indirectly impact all 54 states and territories.

"Our collaborative process with the Guard and Reserve yields a force with the most effective posture for surge capability and steady-state operational employment," Schwartz said. "Achieving the right active and reserve forces mix is critical for meeting our forward presence, rapid response, and high rotational demands with a smaller force."

"The Air National Guard will also internally realign its remaining manpower at units across the United States to properly source emerging force structure requirements and bolster readiness," explained Brig. Gen. Brian Neal, Air National Guard Readiness Center commander. "We will also re purpose manpower positions at Combat Readiness Training Centers, command and control units and flying squadrons."

"The realignment of military positions will improve our combat capability and ensure we are able to maintain our rapid response requirements as defined in Titles 10 and 32," Neal said. "Although we will retain fewer units available to deploy, we will maintain overall capacity and sustain command and control structure."

"To prepare for the FY13 end strength reductions, the Air Force is evaluating the entire suite of currently authorized force management programs to determine which ones will best size and shape the force to support force structure changes," explained William Booth, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Force Management Integration. "We plan to announce additional FY12 programs for the active component in the coming weeks, but neither the Air National Guard nor Air Force Reserve currently has force management programs scheduled for FY12 implementation."

Booth said all components are exploring force management options for fiscal 2013.

"As the Air Force takes steps to reduce our end strength, we will offer support programs to help separating Airmen translate their military skills into the private sector and facilitate the transition in a way that capitalizes on the tremendous experience in technical fields and leadership that they develop while serving," Booth said.

Schwartz emphasized the tough decisions required in the fiscal 2013 President's Budget request.

"In this economy we had to make difficult choices to align with the new strategic guidance and with the cuts required by the Budget Control Act over the next 10 years," Schwartz said.

"Finding the proper balance between force structure, readiness, activity levels and modernization was essential."

The Air Force determined the best course of action is to trade force size for quality.

"We will become smaller in order to preserve a high-quality and ready force, one that will continue to modernize and grow more capable in the future," Schwartz said.

(Submitted by Secretary of the Air Force for Public Affairs)