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Grand Forks AFB, ND

Grand Forks AFB is located 14 miles west of the city of Grand Forks. Grand Forks has a population of close to 50,000 and is home of the University of North Dakota. Grand Forks is located in the Heart of the Red River Valley near the forks of the Red Lake River and the Red River of the North.

In 1954, the Department of Defense chose Grand Forks as the site for an Air Defense Command base. Sixty-five thousand dollars were donated by community minded citizens towards the purchase of a 5,400-acre tract of land 15 miles west of the city of Grand Forks. The actual construction of the base began in February 1956.

The initial phase of construction was completed in 1960 when the 18th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and the Grand Forks Area Defense Sector, semi-automated ground environment began building operations with the F-101 Voodoo. ,p>The 4133rd Strategic Wing was activated in September 1958 and assigned to the base as a tenant unit. The KC-135 Stratotanker arrived in May 1960, making it the first Strategic Air Command weapon system to arrive here. In February 1963, the wing was redesignated the 319th Bombardment Wing (heavy), and in July of the same year, SAC assumed command and control of the base.

Under 2nd Air Force, the base became home of the 4th Strategic Aerospace Division. Joining the base and the 4th STRAD in November 1964, was the nation's first Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile wing, the 321st Strategic Missile Wing. The wing became fully operational in December 1966.

In 1970, the base was placed under the operational control of the 15th Air Force. In 1971, the 4th STRAD was transferred to F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming, as the 4th Strategic Missile Division. At this time, the missile wing was redesignated the host wing for the base. In 1975, the newly-reactivated 57th Air Division brought the two wings together under its control. In 1973, the 321st received the Minuteman III.

With the departure of the B-52 in December 1986, came the arrival of the B-1B Lancer. The base received its first of 17 B-1B Lancers and newly re-engine KC-135s in October 1987.

The 42 Air Division gained operational command and control of Grand Forks AFB in June 1989. The move resulted in the inactivation of some missile wing units. Activated in their place were several 842 units. The move also placed the base under 8th Air Force.

In July 1991, the air division inactivated, making the 319th Bombardment Wing the host unit, activating several 319th units. In September 1991, the wing was renamed the 319th Bomb Wing.

On June 1, 1992, Grand Forks AFB, the 319th Bomb Wing and the 321st Missile Wing said goodbye to SAC and became part of the new Air Combat Command, as a result of major Air Force-wide reorganization. On July 1st, 1993 the 321st Missile Wing became part of the Air Force Space Command. On October 1, 1993 as part of the ongoing Air Force restructuring, the 319th Air Refueling Wing was activated and the base was aligned under Air Mobility Command. Grand Forks AFB is the first supertanker wing in the Air Force. On July 1st, 1994 the 321st Missile Wing was redesignated as the 321st Missile Group as a result of a command level reorganization.

On May 26, 1994 the last of the B-1's left Grand Forks AFB and the 319 Bomb Group was officially deactivated.

The 1995 Base Closure Committee placed Grand Forks AFB on the list of bases to be realigned. The 321st Missiles have been transferred to Malmstrom AFB, Montana. The process has been completed.

BRAC 2005

Secretary of Defense Recommendation: In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB), ND. It would distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135R aircraft to the 126th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Scott AFB, IL (12 aircraft), which would retire its eight KC-135E aircraft; the 916th Air Refueling Wing (AFR), Seymour-Johnson AFB, NC (eight aircraft), which would host an active duty associate unit; the 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill AFB, FL (four aircraft), which would host a Reserve association with 927th Air Refueling Wing (AFR) manpower realigned from Selfridge ANGB, MI; the 154th Wing (ANG), Hickam AFB, HI (four aircraft), which would host an active duty associate unit; and the 22d Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, KS (eight aircraft), which associated with the 931st Air Refueling Group (AFR). Grand Forks would remain an active Air Force installation with a new active duty/Air National Guard association unit created in anticipation of emerging missions at Grand Forks.

Secretary of Defense Justification: Grand Forks (40-tanker) ranked lowest in military value of all active-duty KC-135 bases. However, of Northern tier bases, Grand Forks ranked highest in military value for the UAV mission (43-UAV). Military judgment argued for a continued strategic presence in the north central US (Grand Forks is one of the last remaining active military installations in the region). Military judgment also indicated the potential for emerging missions in homeland defense, particularly for border states. Therefore, Grand Forks is retained as an active installation, but realigned to distribute its KC-135R force structure to bases with higher value for the tanker mission--MacDill (36), McConnell (15), Seymour Johnson (25), and Scott (38). The additional aircraft at MacDill optimize the unit size, establish a new active duty/Air Force Reserve association to enhance unit capability, and preserve sufficient capacity for future beddown of the next generation tanker aircraft. Scott receives KC- 135R model aircraft to replace older, higher maintenance KC-135E models, capture Scott's existing capacity, and increase its capability by robusting the ANG squadron. The additional aircraft at Seymour Johnson optimize the squadron, increase the wing's capability, and establish another new active duty/Air Force Reserve unit association. Additional aircraft at McConnell capitalize on available excess capacity at no cost and optimize three squadrons for greater total wing capability. The Air Force used military judgment in moving force structure from Grand Forks to Hickam (87), concluding that Hickam's strategic location argued for a more robust global mobility capability in the western Pacific. Increasing tanker force structure at Hickam strengthens the unit and establishes an active duty/Air Force Reserve association to maximize Reserve participation. Realigning ANG KC-135R aircraft from McConnell to Forbes (35) replaces aging, higher maintenance KC-135E aircraft with newer models while retaining the experienced personnel from one of the highest-ranking reserve component tanker bases.

The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $131.5M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a savings of $322.5M. Annual recurring savings after implementation would be $173.3M, with payback expected in one year. The net present value of the cost and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $1,982.0 million. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 4,929 jobs (2,645 direct jobs and 2,284 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Grand Forks, ND-MN, Metropolitan Statistical economic area (7.4 percent). Impacts of costs include $1.2M in costs for environmental compliance and waste management.

Community Concerns: The North Dakota community welcomed the future Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) mission, while arguing DoD underestimated Grand Forks' value as a tanker base. They claimed the Mission Compatibility Index (MCI) score undervalued "Proximity to Airspace Supporting Mission." The community noted that the base is strategically located in the north-central United States, providing reduced flight times to key worldwide locations via shorter polar routes. In addition, DoD undervalued the absence of encroachment or air quality issues; outstanding infrastructure, to include a completely new runway estimated for completion in October 2005; the base's support for nuclear missions; large amounts of available airspace; acreage and expansion opportunities; and its high Operations Tempo in support of the Global War on Terror. The community is concerned that the 24 aircraft Grand Forks will distribute to Air Reserve Component bases under DoD's recommendation would be utilized at a significantly lower rate than while at Grand Forks.

The community asks why DoD recommended realigning its tankers since the Air Force's 2003 "Tanker Roadmap" programmed Grand Forks for the first base to fully bed down KC-135 replacement aircraft (then scheduled for delivery in FY08). The community noted its strong relationship with the base, even more so since the 1997 flood, and cited its selection twice for the Abilene Trophy for most outstanding community support within Air Mobility Command. The community suggested that a recommendation to move tankers should call for distribution "as directed by the Secretary of the Air Force," and that the base's facilities, real property and housing be preserved to support a squadron of 12 KC-135s and a family of UAVs.

Commission Findings: The Commission found that Grand Forks has ample capacity and conditions for current and future flying missions, to include the Department of Defense's intent to bed down a family of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). The Commission also found that the Secretary of Defense's overall intent and concept of realigning KC-135s out of Grand Forks AFB was supportable. The Commission found reason to maintain a limited KC-135 presence on the base to facilitate an effective and cost-efficient mission conversion pending stand-up of a UAV.

The Commission found that Fiscal Year 2004 flying hour data revealed Air National Guard and Reserve bases slated to receive Grand Forks aircraft as a result of DoD's recommendations flew their currently assigned aircraft an average of 49 percent fewer hours per aircraft per year, while Active Duty receiver bases flew their KC-135s an average of 8 percent more. DoD's original recommendation would have resulted in 67 percent of Grand Forks aircraft realigning to Air Guard and Reserve bases, though the Commission found this was consistent with Air Force proportionality goals noting that Air Guard and Reserve forces currently operate 62 percent of the KC-135 fleet.

With regard to McConnell Air National Guard Base, KS, the Commission found the Secretary of Defense's intent and concept of redistributing the Air National Guard operated KC-135s was supportable.

The Commission established Air National Guard KC-135 wings at: Scott AFB, Illinois, Seymour-Johnson AFB, North Carolina, MacDill AFB, Florida, Hickam AFB, Hawaii, McConnell AFB, Kansas, and Forbes Field, Kansas. This recommendation is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard Laydown plan.

Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from final selection criteria 1 and 3, as well as from the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission recommends the following:

Realign Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB), ND. Distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135R/T aircraft to meet the Primary Aircraft Authorizations (PAA) requirements established by the Base Closure and Realignment recommendations of the Secretary of Defense, as amended by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

Establish the following KC-135R/T PAA:

The 126th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Scott AFB, IL (eight PAA KC-135R/T). The 126th Air Refueling Wing KC-135E aircraft will be transferred to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, for appropriate disposal as economically unserviceable aircraft;

The 916th Air Refueling Wing (AFR), Seymour-Johnson AFB, NC (16 PAA KC-135R/T), which will host an active duty associate unit;

The 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill AFB, FL (16 PAA KC-135R/T), which will host a Reserve association with 927th Air Refueling Wing (AFR) manpower realigned from Selfridge ANGB, MI;

The 154th Wing (ANG), Hickam AFB, HI (12 PAA KC-135R/T), which will host an active duty associate unit; and,

The 22d Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, KS (48 PAA KC-135R/T), which currently associates with the 931st Air Refueling Group (AFR).

Modify infrastructure at Grand Forks AFB to accommodate the emerging Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) mission. The Secretary of Defense will maintain eight KC-135 aircraft at Grand Forks Air Force Base to facilitate an efficient and cost effective bed down of UAVs. The Secretary will keep the tankers in place until the UAVs are operational at Grand Forks, but not later than 31 Dec 2010 unless otherwise required by the Department of Defense for National Emergencies. Grand Forks will remain an active Air Force installation with a new active duty/Air National Guard association unit created in anticipation of emerging missions at Grand Forks.

Realign McConnell Air National Guard Base by distributing the 184th Air Refueling Wing’s (ANG) nine KC-135R/T aircraft to meet the PAA requirements established by the Base Closure and Realignment recommendations of the Secretary of Defense, as amended by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission. Establish 12 Primary Aircraft Authorization KC-135R/T aircraft at the 190th Air Refueling Wing, Forbes Field AGS, KS. The 184th Air Refueling Wing KC-135E aircraft will be transferred to the AMARC at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, for appropriate disposal as economically unserviceable aircraft.

The Commission found that this change and the recommendation as amended are consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. The full text of this and all Commission recommendations can be found in Appendix Q.



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