Air Force targets 238 jobs to slash in Hawaii
By Timothy Hurley | The Honolulu Star-Advertiser | Published: July 15, 2014
HONOLULU — Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam will lose 238 positions in a move announced Monday by the Air Force to cut costs and eliminate almost 3,500 positions worldwide over the next five years.
Sixty percent of the Pearl Harbor-Hickam job losses — 145 — will come from personnel who provide installation and mission support. The Air Force is creating a new center to handle much of those responsibilities.
Capt. Raymond Geoffroy, spokesman for Pacific Air Forces headquarters, said no other information is available for how the cuts will affect Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
As presented Monday, the plan does not break down the 238 positions between military and civilian personnel. But the Air Force said it will offer incentives to civilians to either leave or seek early retirement, much like it already did to military members.
With both Air Force and Navy commands, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is home to about 19,000 active-duty servicemembers and more than 11,400 Department of Defense civilians.
In March the Air Force announced that four KC-135R refueling tankers and the active-duty 96th Air Refueling Squadron would be cut from the base next fiscal year under proposed budget reductions. It is uncertain whether those proposed cuts are part of the reductions announced Monday.
The Hawaii Air National Guard operates and maintains 12 of the refueling tankers with the active-duty Air Force. The Air Guard had eight of the refueling tankers but received four more in 2010. The proposed cuts would return the number of planes to eight at Hickam.
As for Monday's announcement, the military branch released its plan to save $1.6 billion under a Defense Department order to reduce its costs and staff by at least 20 percent.
The plan calls for significant reductions at major Air Force commands across the country, including at the hardest hit: Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, which will lose 742 positions.
It appears the pain of the cost reduction plan will come sooner rather than later.
"We are aggressively pursuing reductions within the first year, rather than spread them out over five years as allowed by DoD," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement. "It's better for airmen because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner."
Other major cuts include 372 positions at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; 292 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.; 429 at Joint Base San Antonio; and 275 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
The Air Force also said its headquarters staff would lose 734 positions, including 522 positions in the National Capital Region.
Of the 3,459 positions being eliminated worldwide, 923 of those are coming from personnel who provide installation and mission support.
The Air Force said it hopes to reduce overhead, eliminate duplication, streamline functions and improve effectiveness by centralizing installation and mission support at a new center with a staff of 350. Currently, installation support is handled at each major command, including Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The Air Force has not specified where the new center will be located, although it will report to the Air Force Materiel Command headquartered at Wright-Patterson.
At Joint Base Langley-Eustis, which also plays host to a major Army command, about 6,100 civilians work for the Defense Department on base. The installation has about 17,000 military personnel.
Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Federal Facilities and Military Alliance in Virginia, said it's too early to tell how much of an impact the cuts will have on the heavily military-dependent region.
"We have a number, but I don't know yet what that means as far as specifically identifying the impacts locally," he said. "Are those 742 billets? Are some number of them currently unfilled, and they're simply not going to be filled? Or does every one of the 742 have a person in it today?"
Other installations losing positions under the plan announced Monday include 167 at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; 27 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah; 19 at Joint Base Charleston, S.C.; 31 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; and 22 at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.