Birmingham IAP (ANG)
Birmingham IAP (ANG) consists of approximately 147 acres and essential facilities to support the mission of the 117th ARW and its assigned units. A lease between the Federal Government and The Armory Commission of Alabama, dated 22 January 1961, currently with four Supplemental Agreements, established the initial boundaries and conveyed the lands and buildings for the purpose of military aviation. A Lease Amendment between the Birmingham Airport Authority and the Commission in 1988 established the real estate relationship between the airport authority and the Armory Commission. The lease term expires in the year 2036 but shall continue year to year without notice unless terminated by the Commission.
Prior to 1996, the base was bisected by two city streets - East Lake Blvd and Shelby Blvd. As a part of the Master Plan update, East Lake Blvd was rerouted around the base perimeter, Shelby Blvd was transferred to the ANG with a lease amendment, and the individual land parcels were consolidated into one tract of land. This consolidation greatly improved internal traffic circulation, security and unit operations. Prior to the road relocation, this area was in a municipal environment with the utilities routed along the city street easements and rights of way. Electric service was initially supplied by overhead wires and buildings individually metered for consumption and billing. This was changed recently to economize energy costs by establishing with the utility a main feeder with a single primary meter. The ANG provides secondary distribution to the on-base facilities through a system of underground conduits. The overhead wiring remains in service to provide electrical service for street lights and other units occupying the base.
In September 1994, the 117th Air Refueling Wing and 106th Air Refueling Squadron were formed and equipped with KC-135 tanker aircraft. Simultaneously, a major revision outlined in the Base Master Plan was initiated to complete improvements in the infrastructure to support the new mission, to unify the existing real estate holdings into one contiguous environ and to implement facility improvements and additions necessary to support the mission. The Master Plan recommendations included the relocation of a city thoroughfare, consolidation of three real estate parcels and the completion of almost $64 million in facility improvements and construction. To date, all but one of the recommended projects are complete, and it is in the final stages of design.
The 117th ARW occupies 101 facilities including offices, mission support structures, maintenance hangars, POL storage and refueling station and a Joint Hospital. As of 2002 the Wing had 9 authorized KC-135 Stratotankers. The current compliment of personnel is 275, including military and civilian employees. This expands to 1,243 personnel for UTA weekends and during activation.
The Alabama Army National Guard (ARNG) has facilities and units co-located on the base. These facilities provide for aircraft hangar and maintenance, the 109th Evacuation Hospital and OMS storage facility. The 109th Evac Hospital also supports ARNG/ANG weekend drill activities and unit activation's. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration has two radar sites within the confines of the base.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: Realign Birmingham International Airport Air Guard Station (AGS), AL. Distribute the 117th Air Refueling Wing's (ANG) KC-135R aircraft to the 101st Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Bangor International Airport AGS, ME (two aircraft); the 134th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), McGhee-Tyson Airport AGS, TN (four aircraft); and the 161st Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport AGS, AZ (two aircraft). The 117th Air Refueling Wing's firefighter positions will move to Dannelly Field AGS, AL, and the remaining expeditionary combat support (ECS) will remain at Birmingham AGS. .
Additional Recommendations: Phoenix Sky Harbor (37) scored higher than Birmingham (63) (see BRAC Recommendations for rank explanation) in military value for the tanker mission. This recommendation would take advantage of available capacity at Phoenix by increasing the air refueling squadron size from eight to ten aircraft, increasing the wing's overall capability. It would also capitalize on the favorable recruiting environment of the greater Phoenix region that could sustain this increased squadron size. Although McGhee-Tyson (74) and Bangor (123) ranked lower, DoD's military judgment argued in favor of retaining and adding force structure to these installations to increase their overall effectiveness. Bangor would be increased in squadron size from 8 to 12 aircraft because of its critical role in the Northeast Tanker Task Force, as well as its participation in the transatlantic air bridge. The Air Force considered McGhee-Tyson's available capacity and Air National Guard experience in replacing aging, high maintenance KC-135E aircraft with re-engined KC-135R models and in increasing the squadron from 8 to 12 aircraft. Birmingham's ECS would remain in place to support the Air Expeditionary Force and to retain trained and experienced Air National Guard personnel.
The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $11.0M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a cost of $7.7M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $0.8M, with a payback expected in 18 years. The net present value of the savings to the Department over 20 years would be $0.5M. Impacts of costs include $0.2M thousand in costs for environmental compliance and waste management (included in the cost calculation). Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 307 jobs (183 direct jobs and 124 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Birmingham-Hoover, AL, Metropolitan Statistical economic area (less than 0.1 percent). There would be potential impacts to air quality; land use constraints or sensitive resource areas; noise; threatened and endangered species or critical habitat; and wetlands that may need to be considered during the implementation of this recommendation.
DoD also recommended to realign Birmingham Armed Forces Reserve Center, Birmingham, Alabama, by relocating Detachment 1, 450th Military Police Company into a new Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC) on or near Birmingham Air National Guard Base if the Army is able to acquire land suitable for the construction of the facility.
Secretary of Defense Justification: Phoenix Sky Harbor (37) scored higher than Birmingham (63) in military value for the tanker mission. This recommendation takes advantage of available capacity at Phoenix by increasing the air refueling squadron size from eight to ten aircraft, making the wing's overall capability more robust. It also capitalizes on the favorable recruiting environment of the greater Phoenix region, which can sustain this increased squadron size. Although McGhee-Tyson (74) and Bangor (123) ranked lower, military judgment argued in favor of retaining and adding force structure to these installations to increase their overall effectiveness. Bangor was increased in squadron size from 8 to 12 aircraft because of its critical role in the Northeast Tanker Task Force, as well as its participation in the transatlantic air bridge. The Air Force considered McGhee-Tyson's available capacity and Air National Guard experience in replacing aging, high maintenance KC-135E aircraft with re-engined KC-135R models and in increasing the squadron from 8 to 12 aircraft. Birmingham's ECS remains in place to support the Air Expeditionary Force and to retain trained and experienced Air National Guard personnel.
This recommendation also transforms Reserve Component facilities throughout the State of Alabama. The implementation of this recommendation will enhance military value, improve homeland defense capability, greatly improve training and deployment capability, create significant efficiencies and cost savings, and is consistent with the Army's Force Structure Plans and Army transformational objectives.
Further, the recommendation is the result of a state-wide analysis of Reserve Component installations and facilities conducted by a team of functional experts from Headquarters, Department of the Army, the Office of the State Adjutant General, and the Army Reserve Regional Readiness Command.
This recommendation closes nine Army Reserve Centers and one Area Maintenance Support Activity throughout the state of Alabama and constructs five multicomponent/service, multifunctional Armed Forces Reserve Centers, and one Area Maintenance Support Facility capable of accommodating National Guard and Reserve units. This recommendation reduces military manpower and associated costs for maintaining existing facilities by collapsing fifteen geographically separated facilities into five modern Armed Forces Reserve Centers. The Department understands that the State of Alabama will close ALARNG Readiness Centers: Fort Graham, Fort Hanna, Fort Terhune, Fort Ganey, Fort Hardeman and Fort Powell- Shamblin and realign the Northport Alabama Army National Guard Readiness Center by relocating the 31st Chemical Brigade to the new AFRC. The Armed Forces Reserve Centers will have the capability to accommodate these units if the state decides to relocate the units from these closed facilities into the new AFRCs.
This recommendation considered feasible locations within the demographic and geographic areas of the closing facilities and affected units. The site selected was determined as the best location because it optimizes the Reserve Components' ability to recruit and retain Reserve Component soldiers and to train and mobilize units affected by this recommendation.
This recommendation provides the opportunity for other Local, State, or Federal organizations to partner with the Reserve Components to enhance homeland security and homeland defense at a reduced cost to those agencies.
Although not captured in the COBRA analysis, this recommendation, in conjunction with the other recommendations listed under Recommendation 11, avoids an estimated $72.8M in mission facility renovation costs and procurement avoidances associated with meeting AT/FP construction standards and altering existing facilities to meet unit training and communications requirements. Consideration of these avoided costs would reduce costs and increase the net savings to the Department of Defense in the 6-year BRAC implementation period and in the 20-year period used to calculate NPV.
Community Concerns: The community argued DoD failed to properly calculate the base's military value, mission capability and infrastructure. It objected to transferring tankers to bases with lower Tanker Mission Compatibility Index (MCI) scores. It criticized the unspecified structure and implementation of "Enclaves" and Expeditionary Combat Support (ECS) units, and claimed moving aircraft without altering infrastructure misused the BRAC process. It felt the national tanker lay-down plan and MCI did not address homeland defense or security requirements. The community stated DoD did not give sufficient weight to an ongoing runway lengthening project, their "world-class" tanker infrastructure, collocation with a contract depot repair and maintenance facility, and ability to accommodate contingency and surge operations.
There were no formal expressions from the community concerning the realignment of Detachment 1, 450th Military Police Company, into a new Armed Forces Reserve Center (AFRC) on or near Birmingham Air National Guard Base if the Army is able to acquire land suitable for the construction of the facility.
Commission Findings: The Commission found that the aggregate of both programmatic and BRAC-related aircraft movements into and out of the Southeastern United States, including Air Force, Navy and Marine aircraft, could lead to a potential shortage of regional air refueling aircraft for efficient, cost-effective training opportunities and homeland defense mission support. The Commission found that the potential shortfall is one of economic efficiency, not operational deficiency. The Commission found that the potential shortfall of cost-effective air-refueling support could be mitigated by rejecting one of the Department of Defense's recommendations reducing the quantity of KC-135 tanker aircraft in the Southeast. The Commission noted the significant operational capability advantage that Birmingham will soon have as a result of its ongoing runway lengthening project (from 10,000' to 12,000'), and additional military value of the installation. The Commission assesses that Birmingham IAP AGS, AL should continue to operate as an eight-PAA KC-135 installation. The Commission found that this action is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Reserve Laydown Plan.
The Commission found no reason to disagree with the relocation of Detachment 1, 450th Military Policy Company. In addition, the Commission notes that the Army's process was well thought-out and inclusive of the leadership of the Reserve Components and the State concerning this matter.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from final selection criteria 1 and 2, and the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission has rejected the recommendation of the Secretary.
However, The Commission found the Secretary's recommendation consistent with the final selection criteria and force structure plan concerning Recommendation 11, Reserve Component (RC) Transformation in Alabama, and therefore the Commission approved this recommendation of the Secretary.
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