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Military officials on Guam will begin a months-long process early next year to shift much of its civilian work force on the island from the Air Force to the Navy, according to Andersen Air Force Base officials.

The transition, which starts  Jan. 31, will create a new command called Joint Region Marianas. It will oversee 49 installation functions at Andersen, according to Stephen Wolborsky, a former vice commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen overseeing the transition.

The move is part of a military effort to streamline services. On Guam, it means that by Oct. 1 all of Andersen’s mission support roles — such as housing, recreation, fitness centers, utilities, fire, public affairs, protocol and the inspector general’s office — will report to U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas, Wolborsky said.

Servicemembers, other civilian workers and family members on base will see a few changes as the transition begins, he said. While not all Navy services mirror Air Force counterparts, leaders at both bases are working to ensure that customers receive the same services they are used to.

"We’re unique in that there isn’t going to be much change in how we do business," Wolborsky said.

The top officer at Andersen, Brig. Gen. Philip M. Ruhlman, commands the 36th Wing and the base. Under the new system, he also will be deputy commander of Joint Region Marianas.

Ruhlman will continue to command all air operations, medical services and overall mission efforts and report directly to Pacific Air Force, Wolborsky said.

It remains unclear exactly how many jobs will shift from air to sea, Wolborsky said. Both services are continuing to work on details and a memorandum of understanding between the installation commands at Andersen and Guam Naval Base, he said.

No workers will lose their jobs or current salaries in the transition, Wolborsky said. The civilian workers will continue to report to their current supervisors, even if that person wears an Air Force uniform rather than Navy uniform, he said.

Air Force officials have held two town hall meetings to talk with the workers about the changes. Some workers are worried about losing their seniority in the Air Force as they apply for other jobs worldwide, he said.

"We’re concerned about that," Wolborsky said. "We’d like to see some policy relief on that."

The services’ two retail systems — the Navy Exchange and the Army and Air Force Exchange Store — will continue to operate separately. Their profits, however, will be pooled and distributed under Navy rules, with Air Force officials on a committee that decides how that money is spent, Wolborsky said.


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