Within 30 days, the Air Force should provide specifics about the depth of job cuts at Langley Air Force Base, allowing local leaders to determine the extent of the economic damage.
Meanwhile, the Air Force has agreed to consider Langley for a new center that could add jobs.
That was the upshot of a meeting that took place Wednesday between Air Force leaders and a bipartisan delegation from Virginia looking to soften the blow to the defense-dependent economy of Hampton Roads.
The Air Force two weeks ago announced a major downsizing and reorganization that would eliminate 742 positions at Langley. It is part of a plan to reduce 3,459 positions overall and save $1.6 billion over the next five years as the military pivots away from fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Langley was the hardest hit base in the nation.
But few details have been released beyond the overall number. At least some of those 742 positions are already vacant, perhaps many. There is no breakdown between military and civilian jobs. So at this point, it is difficult to determine the effect on current jobholders at Langley, a major military and employment center for the region. The base has more than 10,000 people, most of them service members.
Those are the details the Virginia delegation wants to learn, and in a joint news release, they said the Air Force would provide "specific details on personnel reductions." Attending the meeting were Democratic Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland; Scott Rigell, R-Virginia Beach, and Robert C. "Bobby" Scott, D-Newport News.
The cuts at Langley are centered on Air Combat Command headquarters, which has about 1,800 people — not positions — spread between Air Force officers, enlisted personnel and civilians. Of the 742 positions, 502 will be lost due to a management review. Another 240 will be cut because the Air Force plans to form a new centralized facility to support common, day-to-day jobs needed at Air Force installations everywhere.
That center has the delegation's attention as well.
It will create 350 jobs, but the Air Force hasn't decided on a location. They told the lawmakers Wednesday that Langley would be considered as a location. Meeting with the delegation were Air Force Assistant Secretary Kathleen Ferguson, Deputy Chief Management Officer Bill Booth and Maj. Gen. Theresa Carter.
Finally, the lawmakers said they pressed Air Force officials to accommodate civilian and military personnel who actually lose their jobs. That could mean placing them elsewhere within the Defense Department or at other installations.