An Air Force reorganization announced Monday could mean the loss of 742 jobs at Langley Air Force Base but also the chance of attracting a new unit that would replace almost half the lost positions.
Air Force leaders said they will eliminate 3,459 civilian and military positions across the service over the next five years to meet a requirement that the headquarters budget be cut by 20 percent or $1.6 billion. All the services were told last year to make similar reductions.
At Langley, 502 positions will be cut at Air Combat Command, which has a staff of about 1,850, and 240 more base positions will be shifted to a new Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center – known as AFIMSC – that doesn’t yet have a home.
In all, Langley employs about 10,600 people, including about 8,000 service members. In addition to Air Combat Command, it is home to squadrons of the F-22 Raptor fighter jet and other military operations.
The number of people who will lose their jobs isn’t yet clear. Though no specifics were available Monday, spokespersons at Langley and the Pentagon said some positions being cut are already vacant. Military members may be reassigned and civilians may apply for other federal jobs, they said.
“We understand the impact is lessened because most of the positions are not currently filled,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) in a prepared statement. “Our service members and defense civilians are a critical aspect of our military, and I will advocate for new opportunities for them to continue their service.”
Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said most of the military personnel cuts will come in the first year.
“It’s better for airmen because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner,” James said in a written statement. “It also allows us to harvest the savings earlier so that we can plow it back into readiness and some of our key modernization programs.”
The Air Force is initiating early-retirement and voluntaryseparation programs with financial incentives to entice people to leave their jobs.
Langley is among the locations hardest hit by the cutbacks. Other major reductions include 734 positions in Washington, D.C., 429 at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas; 372 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio; 292 at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois; and 349 at the air command for Europe and Africa.
Virginia’s congressional delegation hopes to make up Langley’s losses by persuading the Air Force to install the headquarters of the new AFIMSC in Hampton.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) called on the Air Force to do just that in a statement Monday, arguing that Langley is close to the Pentagon and other military organizations.
The new unit will centralize oversight of Air Force installations and mission support activities. It brings with it 350 positions created by some of the cuts announced Monday.
The Air Force reorganization also places under Langley’s Air Combat Command the service’s Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, which becomes the 25th Air Force.
However, the 25th will likely remain at its current home in San Antonio, said Capt. Erika Yepsen, an Air Force spokeswoman.