European edition, Tuesday, July 31, 2007

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The Air Force’s 38th Combat Support Wing is deactivating after three years.

The Air Force created the wing to oversee and help support the dozens of remote air bases and units across Europe. But a review found the wing actually created an extra layer of bureaucracy and isolated units would be better served without it.

Brig. Gen. Michael Snodgrass, director of plans, programs and analysis for U.S. Air Forces in Europe headquarters, said members of the wing did a good job but studies showed that larger, neighboring bases could offer better support for airmen scattered across the continent.

The goal of the 38th was to boost support for the remote units by putting a colonel in charge of them, but the wing actually created more “friction,” Snodgrass told Stars and Stripes in an interview on Monday. The command is based at Kapaun Air Station in Kaiserslautern.

“I think now we have an enduring approach that divides up the work effort and it’s still a considerable amount of work for people but it divides up the work effort amongst the operational wings,” he said.

The European headquarters conducted the review as part of an Air Force-wide effort to reduce its forces. USAFE plans to trim 12 percent — or 3,463 — of its airmen in Europe as a result of those cuts. The reduction will be done in phases through fiscal 2008 and 2009, according to a USAFE press release.

The deactivation of the 38th will affect fewer than 50 people, who will be reassigned to other units. A formal deactivation ceremony is not scheduled, but Snodgrass said they hoped to officially say farewell to the wing before the end of summer.

The Air Force has 70 remote units, known as geographically separated units, or GSUs. Many have already began reporting to neighboring wings for support.

The history of the 38th dates back to the 1960s, when the Air Force operated the 38th Tactical Missile Wing.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now