Airman reaction split between frustration and resignation
OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — Airmen stationed at Osan Air Base said recent cost-cutting measures being taken to curb a monetary shortfall have posed minimal inconvenience to some and have annoyed and demoralized others.
The measures have been adopted to offset a $5.5 million shortfall in the wing’s budget for fiscal 2007.
The airmen spoke to Stars and Stripes off the base because officials at Osan’s 51st Fighter Wing on Friday barred the newspaper from interviewing airmen on base about the cost-cutting. The wing is commanded by Brig. Gen. Joseph Reynes Jr.
One airman told Stripes that she wouldn’t give her name because she was afraid she would get in trouble for talking to the media.
But she expressed frustration with the cost-saving measures.
“I think it sucks,” she said of a measure that does away with hot water for washing machines in dorms. “The water is already rusty, and that’s the water we drink too. You can’t get all the bacteria out like that.”
She said her office no longer has hot water in the bathroom, so she has to use cold water to wash her hands.
Another airman interviewed off-base, who also asked that his name not be published, said the cost-cutting measures are “not a big deal to me. You gotta do what you gotta do.”
He said a move to have airmen eat in the dining hall instead of having their meals to-go was annoying, but said it little affected him because of his work and dining schedule.
In rejecting a Stripes request Friday to interview airmen on base, wing spokesman Lt. Col. Michael E. Shavers said officials had provided Stars and Stripes with an abundance of information, considered that information sufficient, and deemed interviews with airmen to gauge their reaction to the measures to be unnecessary to the coverage.
A staff sergeant said he thought airmen should be careful about commenting on security-related matters. But questions about cost-cutting measures were in a different category, he added.
One junior enlisted airman was more outspoken.
“They turn off the hot water for our washers,” he said, adding that the change has affected “morale” in his unit. “We work 14, 16 hours, and we ask for our hot water. They turn if off. We just don’t like that.”