Naval Air Station Atlanta
Naval Air Station Atlanta's mission was to train Navy and Marine Corps Reservists assigned to numerous aviation and non-aviation reserve units. The command organization was made of more than 900 active duty military and civilian personnel. NAS Atlanta was the home of Marine Air Group (MAG) 42, Carrier Air Group (CAG) 20, three Navy squadrons (flying the F/A-18, E-2 and C-9 aircraft), two Marine Corps squadrons (flying the F/A-18 aircraft, and AH-1W and UH-1 helicopters) as well as several other commands. In 2005, DoD recommended NAS Atlanta for closure and its constituent units relocated or consolidated at other installations (see BRAC 2005 below for details).
Like NAS Willow Grove and NAF Washington/Andrews AFB, NAF Atlanta offers superb convenience and thus recruiting opportunities to the services' reserve components, at some cost in operational flexibility. In the case of NAF Atlanta, that cost is imposed primarily in terms of airspace access.
The F/A-18s assigned to VFA 203 and VMFA 142 face one of the more difficult airspace access challenges in the DoN. Operations at the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport, impose a significant impact on surrounding airspace. Atlanta functions as a 360 degree hub, with approach, departure, bypass or overflight traffic using virtually all available airspace within 200 miles of the facility. The airspace northeast of Atlanta is probably the most congested, as it must accommodate departures and arrivals between Atlanta and cities in the northeast. Unfortunately, the primary airspace available to NAF Atlanta units, the Snowbird MOA/ATCAA lies in that quadrant.
Snowbird's existence traces back well over 20 years. Its primary users were originally Air National Guard units, which have since relocated or converted from fighter aircraft to other missions. The airspace has been contentious for much of that time; Atlanta's traffic growth and growing concern for ATC system efficiency and delay management have made it difficult for DoD users to obtain reliable access to the area. In particular, the combination of the relatively high terrain for the eastern part of the country (Snowbird overlies the Smoky Mountains), and altitude caps to accommodate civil overflights, severely limits the area's flexibility and utility.
The Bulldog MOA (itself a somewhat restricted airspace asset) has been suggested to provide some relief. To date, this solution has not been embraced by either Bulldog's schedulers (the Air Force 20 th Fighter Wing) or potential Navy users. Among the issues are uncertainty about interservice scheduling priorities, the true availability of the airspace (itself a factor in Atlanta arrival operations) and the ability to cross over Atlanta traffic en route to Bulldog.
Discussions between the FAA and representatives from the DON indicate that the FAA will honor the DoN requirement for high altitude airspace (up to and including FL250) on a regular basis with real time request up to and including FL270. This commitment is being crafted into a letter of agreement. In addition to the commitment for ATCAA airspace above the Snowbird MOA, NAF Atlanta will assume scheduling responsibilities for the airspace.
Naval Air Station Atlanta's history covers two locations, the first one in Chamblee in DeKalb County, and the present one near Marietta in Cobb County.
The Navy Department selected Fort Gordon in late 1940 as the site for a Naval Reserve Aviation Base. Contractors quickly turned what used to be an infantry training center during World War I into an airfield. The new base was officially commissioned and opened for business March 22, 1941 with the primary responsibility of training Navy and Marine Corps aviators. The base was officially designated U.S. Naval Air Station Atlanta in January 1943.
As wartime training was phased out, the Naval Air Reserve Training Program was activated. NAS Atlanta was ideally situated for training personnel from throughout the southeastern part of tho U.S. With the evolution of jet fighters and large patrol bombers, it soon became apparent that the limited area at Chamblee could not be used safely for very long.
In April l955, Congress appropriated more than $ 4 million to start building a new Naval Air Station at a more suitable location to allow longer runways. The site selected was a large military reservation jointly occupied by Dobbins Air Force Base and the Lockheed Company, between Marietta and Smyrna. The new air station was completed in April 1959.
The 1960s brought the first assigned tactical training jet to NAS, the Lockheed Seastar T2V. Further developments and changes were made to the air station as the years passed. The mid-1980's were years of transition and farewells. The retirement of the U.S. Navy's last C-118 Liftmaster, after 33 years of service, brought forward its replacement, the McDonnell Douglas C-9 "Skytrain" operated by Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 46 (VR-46).
In the 1990's there was phenomenal change and growth. Attack Squadron 205 (VA-205) transitioned from the A-7E Corsair to the A-6E, Intruder. Although VA-205 was decommissioned, an A-7 marks the entrance to the air station, and an A-6 stands watch over hanger 5. Fighter Attack Squadron 203 quickly filled their spot, bringing the advanced F/A-18 Hornet to Atlanta. In June 1992, the Marine presence was redefined as Marine Air Group 42 relocated to Atlanta, now an Air component of the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) with a full component of helicopter and fixed wing aviation. June of 1993 saw the standup of Marine Light Medium Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 (HMLA-773) and their UH-1 Hueys and AH-1W Super Cobras.
On November 18, 1995, Carrier Early Airborne Warning Squadron 77 (VAW-77) was commissioned, flying the E-2C Hawkeye. VAW-77, a Reserve Squadron serves with the US Coast Guard and other Federal Agencies to fight the war on drugs, providing sophisticated air and surface surveillance on traffic off the southern coast of the US. In September 1997, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 142 (VMFA-142) joined the Atlanta Team, adding another F/A-18 squadron to the Air Station.
The Air Station was proudly awarded the Edwin F. Conway Trophy in 1987, 1993 for being the most efficient Naval Air Station in the Naval Reserve, and the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) won the Commander, Naval Reserve Force Robert S. Gray Maintenance Excellence Award in 1987 and 1992. In 1990 the air station was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation for unprecedented accomplishments, consistent performance and unswerving dedication to duty. Other awards between 1988 and 1993 include: Secretary of Navy Energy Conservation Award; major claimant nominations for the Bronze Hammer Award, nomination for the Commander in Chief's Installation Excellence Award, and the 1992 Commander, Naval Air Reserve Force Safety Ashore Award.
The base is situated 20 miles north of Atlanta in Marietta, Georgia in Cobb County. Cobb County is located in the Metro Atlanta area and the county seat is Marietta. Marietta was established in 1832 on what was originally Cherokee Indian lands. Settlers organized the government in 1832. In 1837 a surveyor named Stephen Long drove a stake into an upland wilderness to mark the best spot for a railroad line that would eventually link Augusta, Georgia and Chattanooga, Tennessee. The settlement simply called "Terminus" began to grow at that site. That was the beginning of Atlanta.
In 1847 Atlanta became an incorporated town. In 1861 Georgia was the fourth state to secede from the Union. In 1864 the Union Army set fire to Atlanta and completely destroyed her. Atlanta was rebuilt by determined citizens and emerged as a new metropolis. Today, Atlanta's symbol is the Phoenix, a legendary bird that rose from its own ashes with renewed strength and beauty.
In 1939, the legendary film, "Gone with the Wind" premiered at Lowes Grand Theatre in Atlanta and Atlanta has been best known for this production since that time. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an Atlanta native and Civil Rights Leader, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, and in 1976 Jimmy Carter from Atlanta became the 39th U.S. President. In 1996, Atlanta hosted the Olympic Games.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Close Naval Air Station Atlanta, GA. Relocate its aircraft and necessary personnel, equipment and support to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, LA; Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, TX; and Robins Air Force Base, Robins, GA. Relocate Reserve Intelligence Area 14 to Fort Gillem, Forest Park, GA. Relocate depot maintenance Aircraft Components, Aircraft Engines, Fabrication and Manufacturing, and Support Equipment in support of F/A-18, C-9 and C-12 aircraft to Fleet Readiness Center West Site Fort Worth at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, TX. Relocate intermediate maintenance in support of E-2C aircraft to Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic Site New Orleans at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, LA. Consolidate the Naval Air Reserve Atlanta with Navy Marine Corps Reserve Center Atlanta located at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Marietta, GA. Retain the Windy Hill Annex.
Secretary of Defense Justification: This recommendation reduces excess capacity while maintaining reserve forces in regions with favorable demographics. The aviation assets will be located closer to their theater of operations and/or will result in increased maintenance efficiencies and operational synergies. Relocating Reserve Intelligence Area 14 to Fort Gillem creates synergies with joint intelligence assets while maintaining the demographic base offered by the Atlanta area for this function. The Fleet Readiness Center portion of this recommendation realigns and merges depot and intermediate maintenance activities. It supports both DoD and Navy transformation goals by reducing the number of maintenance levels and streamlining the way maintenance is accomplished with associated significant cost reductions.
The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $43.0M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during theimplementation period would be a savings of $289.9M. Annual recurring savings to the Departmentafter implementation would be $66.1M with an immediate payback expected. The net present value ofthe costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $910.9M. Assuming no economic recovery, DoD estimated that this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 2,186 jobs (1,420 direct jobs and 766 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which would be less than 0.1 percent of economic area employment.
Environmental Impact: There would be potential impacts to waste management. This recommendation indicates impacts of costs at the installations involved, which reported $0.2M in costs for waste management and environmental compliance. These costs were included in the payback calculation.
Community Concerns: The community expressed concern that relocating Navy/Marine Corps Reserve squadrons to areas where the presence of qualified and trained personnel resources are uncertain would significantly degrade the military readiness of the combat ready and tested Atlanta area Reserve forces. These forces are presently engaged in the Global War on Terror and actively monitoring and deterring drug trafficking along the southern US coast. They further argued that DoD's stated savings would not be realized by closing NAS Atlanta, because the remaining infrastructure of hangars, ramps, and administration and support buildings would be absorbed by Dobbins Air Reserve Base, and other Department of Defense and governmental agencies.
Commission Findings: The Commission found no reason to disagree with the recommendation of the Secretary of Defense. However, the original cost savings were overstated because of incorrect data submitted by Naval Air Station Atlanta. Consequently, the cost data was revised by the Department of Defense and recertified.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission approves the recommendation of the Secretary.
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