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RAF MILDENHALL, England — A U.S. Air Forces in Europe task force will visit England this month to determine if certain services and functions at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath can be combined.

The goal is to reduce duplication at the two bases and cut manpower, which is a goal throughout the Air Force, said Maj. Francisco Hamm, public affairs chief for the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath.

“Everything is still in the exploratory phase,” Hamm said Thursday morning.

The two bases are only four miles apart, connected by a narrow, twisting country road. The distance is shorter as the crow — or F-15 — flies.

At each base, many services and functions are performed separately, such as civil engineer work and morale efforts.

And each base has a public affairs shop that produces its own weekly magazine — Jet 48 at RAF Lakenheath and Marauder at RAF Mildenhall, home of the 100th Air Refueling Wing.

Hamm said the task force is made up of people from USAFE, the 48th Fighter Wing, the 100th Air Refueling Wing and Third Air Force, which has its headquarters at Mildenhall.

“It will be a combined team effort to look at whether [consolidation] is a possibility,” Hamm said.

The effort is part of a wider plan to reduce manpower within the Air Force, he said. The Department of Defense has instructed the service to reduce its manpower by 13,000. It is currently allocated 358,000 military and 158,000 civilian positions.

Each major command in the Air Force is looking at places to make cuts. USAFE has to reduce its authorized manpower positions by 850, Hamm said, but some positions are already empty.

Hamm said it is too early to guess at how many positions will be affected if the task force recommends some consolidation.

“That’s one of the reasons they are coming here to look at the functions and facilities — to figure out the numbers,” he said.

The task force’s findings will be provided to Gen. Gregory Martin, USAFE commander, who make the decision on what, if any, services and functions are combined, Hamm said.

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