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Air Force secretary tours bases in England that could face closure

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, left, shakes hands with U.S. Air Force Col. Kenneth T. Bibb Jr., 100th Air Refueling Wing commander, after arriving at RAF Mildenhall, England, on Wednesday, July 16, 2014. James is touring U.S. bases in England.

RAF MILDENHALL, England — Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James is on a tour of bases in England, some of which have uncertain futures.

James first stopped at the Farnborough International Airshow near London earlier this week, where she met with U.S. servicemembers. The show provides a meeting ground for defense contractors and potential buyers. More than $70 billion in transactions were arranged at the 2012 show, according to air show officials.

She arrived at RAF Mildenhall on Wednesday and was also visiting RAFs Alconbury, Molesworth and Lakenheath.

The tour gives her a chance to meet airmen and view base operations, said Capt. Christina Sukach, a spokeswoman for James.

Most of the bases James is visiting have been designated candidates for closure or reduction. The Air Force proposed in its 2015 budget request closing Alconbury and Molesworth and moving the latter’s U.S. intelligence operations to RAF Croughton.

The U.S. Senate appropriations committee, however, wants the project delayed until the European Infrastructure Consolidation review is complete. The review, an analysis likely to recommend additional closure and consolidation of installations in Europe, is expected soon.

Lakenheath has already been marked as a potential target of more cuts. Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, revealed in June that the consolidation review had “preliminary plans or results” to remove some  F-15s from Europe. The 48th Fighter Wing at Lakenheath is the only U.S. wing with F-15s in Europe.

mathis.adam@stripes.com
Twitter: @AMathisStripes

 

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