KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — U.S. Air Force officials in Europe have begun notifying 180 civilians that their jobs are being eliminated as part of a major, servicewide restructuring announced this week to eliminate thousands of civilian positions, officials said Friday.
In Europe, 320 vacant civilian positions will be cut across the command, said Mike Kucharek, a U.S. Air Forces in Europe spokesman.
The cuts affect headquarters positions – where about 60 filled positions will be eliminated – and those at the air wing level and below, Kucharek said.
Some of the jobs targeted for elimination will be funded through April 1, 2012, he said, and the remainder will come off the books on Oct. 1, 2012.
On Wednesday, the Air Force announced it is eliminating 9,000 civilian jobs now and another 4,500 in the future as part of an effort to rein in spending. The military services have been scrambling to find savings as the Department of Defense faces about $450 billion in budget cuts over the next 12 years.
Kucharek said efforts were made to eliminate vacant positions first, but that cuts had to go deeper to meet the targets established by the Air Force. “The reality is it’s not ‘business as usual,’” he said. “I think people are aware of that, but it’s difficult when you’re talking about real people, by an involuntary cut. We’re cognizant of that, and all efforts are being made to minimize the impact.”
Those efforts include trying to find employees losing their jobs other valid, funded positions, either within USAFE or stateside, he said.
“Some employees have return rights, some will be placed in priority placement at various USAFE locations and others will be placed in vacant positions across the command,” he said, noting that not all vacant jobs in USAFE have been eliminated.
Details on which specific jobs are going away in Europe weren’t available Friday.
Air Force officials have said reductions were focused in overhead and support areas, while efforts were made to minimize the impact to operations and maintenance, acquisition and the nuclear enterprise.
At Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany, 68 civilian jobs will be cut as of April 1, 2012, according to base spokeswoman Iris Reiff. Of those, 47 are unoccupied. Not all notifications to the 21 employees affected have been completed, Reiff said in an email Friday.
Elsewhere in Germany, 48 civilian positions will be eliminated at Ramstein Air Base, said base spokesman Juan Melendez, including those falling under the 86th Airlift Wing as well as tenant units on base. Some of those jobs were already vacant, he said, but he didn’t know how many. Employees facing termination were to have been notified by their supervisor Thursday when they came to work, Melendez said.
At Aviano Air Base in Italy, 16 civilians have been notified that their jobs are going away, tentatively by March 31, 2012, said base spokesman Staff Sgt. Justin Weaver. The base will lose an additional six civilian positions currently unfilled, he said. A town hall meeting was held Friday morning to inform base workers of the restructuring, Weaver said.
At RAF Mildenhall, England, the 100th Air Refueling Wing will lose 10 civilian employees and a total of 35 civilian positions, said Staff. Sgt. Thomas Trower, a wing spokesman.
Incirlik Air Base in Turkey will lose 22 positions; 12 of those are currently filled, said base spokesman Master Sgt. James Law. Most of the affected employees have been notified, he said.
Lajes Field, Azores, lost the administrator of airmen’s physical fitness tests at the health and wellness center, said 1st Lt. Mara Title, a base spokeswoman. The position was eliminated in the last few weeks, she said. At Lajes, airmen will once again assume the role of giving the fitness tests. “It just needs to be someone not in the same squadron,” Title said.
A civilian hiring freeze has left that position unfilled at other military bases, Air Force officials announced recently, though, at the time, they could not say how many vacancies existed.