Acting Air Force secretary puts hold on maintenance group changes
July 11, 2008
The plan to put aircraft maintenance units back under the control of operational squadrons is on hold at U.S. Air Force bases worldwide.
Acting Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley directed the delay July 2 across the service, according to an Air Force news release.
Donley wanted the "opportunity to discuss the appropriateness and timeliness of these changes with Air Force senior leaders," the release said.
The order to halt the reorganization came just two weeks after Donley replaced outgoing secretary Michael Wynne.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked for the resignation of Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. Michael T. Moseley on June 5 over the Air Force’s mishandling of nuclear weapons.
Under the previous Air Force leadership, units had been directed to implement the changes between July 1 and Nov. 30.
The proposed restructuring would have moved crew chiefs, weapons loaders and other maintainers into flying squadrons.
The shift was intended to make the mechanics and pilots more of a cohesive unit when deploying, Col. Bret T. Klassen, the commander of the 36th Maintenance Group on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, told Stripes in June.
Commanders in Japan said this week the abrupt halt of those plans won’t affect operations but could affect personnel moves.
"Based on the delay, some personnel changes may need to occur," said 35th Operations Group commander Col. Mark Altobelli, noting in a written response that the operations group was awaiting guidance from higher headquarters.
The 35th Maintenance Group at Misawa was to have been re-designated the 35th Materiel Group during a ceremony July 1. It was canceled.
The delay won’t "affect Misawa’s ability to execute its mission in garrison or deployed," Altobelli said.
At Kadena and Yokota air bases, the reorganization was still in the planning stages, officials there said, and no impact to permanent-change-of-station moves was expected.
"Our operations will continue under the current organizational construct until the wing receives further direction from higher headquarters," said Lt. Col. Joseph E. Coogan, 18th Operations Support Squadron commander at Kadena on Okinawa.
The Air Force has not given a timeline for a final decision, saying only that one won’t be made until after Donley has conducted discussions with senior leaders, according to the release.
Stars and Stripes reporters Teri Weaver and Natasha Lee contributed to this story.