OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — The U.S. airmen in South Korea whose wartime mission would be rapidly converting several air bases to a combat footing will now be stationed at a single base, officials said.

The 607th Materiel Maintenance Squadron will consolidate its entire operation within the U.S. compound at K-2 Air Base in Daegu, a process to be completed by September, said Maj. Rodney Wrotten, squadron operations officer.

Until recently, the squadron had its headquarters at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, with caretaker contingents of airmen inside U.S. compounds at five South Korean air bases: K-2, Gimhae, Gwangju, Chongju and Suwon. The Air Force calls its compounds at those bases COBs, for co-located operating bases.

The consolidation will cut the squadron from 90 to 70 airmen — freeing 20 job slots the Air Force in South Korea can fill from other career fields, and it will help squadron leaders more efficiently oversee operations, Wrotten said.

“Previously, you had leadership at multiple locations,” he said. “Now you have one centralized leadership element controlling all those locations and pushing the workforce where it’s needed.”

The squadron’s headquarters moved to K-2 in March, and the unit has begun the process of shifting airmen from the other four COBs to K-2.

Civilian contractors will continue daily upkeep of the COBs. Meanwhile, squadron airmen will conduct periodic inspections to ensure things are in right order.

But only airmen will be allowed access to the munitions warehoused at each base, Wrotten said.

The Air Force plans to seal the munitions dumps and send airmen to inspect them every six months, he said.

“Contractors will not touch our munitions,” Wrotten said.

One thing won’t change. In wartime, it would still be the airmen who would get each of the bases ramped up for war — unlocking and organizing the ammunition, fuel, medical supplies, vehicles, forklifts and other equipment needed to set up a combat air base.

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