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Wisconsin Air National Guard to lose 39 positions in defense cuts

Wisconsin Air National Guard units are expected to lose 39 positions later this year as the U.S. military continues to downsize, the guard announced Tuesday.

If approved by Congress, the Milwaukee-based 128th Air Refueling Wing will lose 16 drill-status guard positions, and the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas will see cuts of nine full time positions and 14 drill-status jobs. Drill-status guard positions are people who drill one weekend a month and two weeks each year.

After the Air Force announced its budget plan for fiscal 2015 last week, Wisconsin Adjutant General Don Dunbar met with Air Guard leaders to discuss the best ways to mitigate the impact on the Wisconsin Air National Guard, guard spokesman Major Paul Rickert said.

The cuts are expected to occur when the government fiscal year starts Oct. 1. Wisconsin National Guard officials are hoping to trim jobs through retirements and attrition.

"It's our hope the majority, if not all, of the positions will be able to be handled that way," Rickert said.

There are 2,300 Wisconsin Air National Guard members.

The personnel cuts are part of President Obama's defense budget for next year. The Air Force expects to reduce its ranks by approximately 20,000 in 2015 including 400 positions within the Air National Guard across the country.

No cuts have been announced for the Army, though it's possible Army ranks will also be trimmed.

"I can't speculate on what cuts may occur on the Army side but it's entirely likely the Army may face cuts as well," Rickert said.

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