March AFB was realigned under Base Closure and Realignment [BRAC] III announced in March 1993, with a realignment date of March 31, 1996. March Air Reserve Base is named for 2nd Lt. Peyton C. March, who died Feb. 18, 1918. It is located 9 mi. southeast of Riverside, California. The base covers about 6,700 acres. Of these 6,700 acres, the Air Force Reserves retain 2,258 acres at the airport. The airfield's 13,300-foot runway is the longest in California. In addition, Bob Hope made his first USO appearance ever at March Field on May 6, 1941.
The attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 quickly brought March Field into the business of training air crews. Throughout the war many soon-to-be-famous bombardment groups performed their final training at March before embarking for duty in the Pacific. During this period the base doubled in area and at the zenith of the war effort supported approximately 75,000 troops.
After the war, March reverted to its operational role and became a Tactical Air Command base. The main unit, the famed 1st Fighter Wing, brought the first jet aircraft, the F-80, to the base. This deviation from the traditional bombardment training and operations functions did not long endure. In 1949, March became a part of the relatively new Strategic Air Command. Headquarters Fifteenth Air Force along with the 33d Communications Squadron moved to March from Colorado Springs in the same year. Also in 1949, the 22d Bombardment Wing moved from Smoky Hill Air Force Base, Kansas to March. Thereafter, these three units remained as dominant features of base activities. From 1949 to 1953, the B-29 Superfortresses dominated the flightline at March Air Force Base. For four months, July to October, the 22d saw action over Korea.
The wing converted from the propeller-driven B-29s to the B-47 jet bombers and their supporting tankers, the KC-97s. The KC-97s belonging to the 17th and 22d Air Refueling Squadrons represented an jump in technology.
The end of the 1960s saw March Air Force Base preparing to exchange its B-47s and KC-97s for updated bombers and tankers. Increasing international tensions in Europe and elsewhere by September 16, 1963, brought March its first B-52B bomber, "The City of Riverside." Soon 15 more of the bombers appeared on the flightline along with new KC-135 jet "Stratotankers." March's first KC-135, "The Mission Bell" arrived on October 4, 1963. For the next twenty years this team would dominate the skies over what had come to be called the Inland Empire as the 22d Bombardment Wing played a feature role in the Strategic Air Command's mission. During the conflict in Southeast Asia, the 22d Bombardment Wing deployed its planes several times in operations such as Young Tiger, Rolling Thunder, Arc Light and Linebacker II.
Several post-Vietnam adjustments brought the retirement of the wing's last B-52 on November 9, 1982. This event signaled yet another era for March Air Force Base and for the 22d. The 22d Bombardment Wing , so long a key ingredient in March's long history, would become an air refueling wing with the new KC-10 tanker.
Operating under a caretaker agreement, the March Joint Powers Authority (JPA) began operating and maintaining the realigned portion of March Air Force Base on April 1, 1996. The JPA will operate and maintain utility systems in both the realigned area (4,400 acres in the base proper), and in the Air Force Reserve cantonment area (the airport with 2, 258 acres.) The March Joint Powers Authority membership includes the County of Riverside, and the Cities of Moreno Valley, Perris and Riverside.
In 1993, March Air Force Base was selected for realignment. In August 1993, the 445th Airlift Wing transferred to March from Norton AFB, Calif. On January 3, 1994, the 22d Air Refueling Wing was transferred to McConnell AFB, Kansas, and the 722d Air Refueling Wing stood up at March. As part of the Air Force's realignment and transition, March's two Reserve units, the 445th Airlift Wing and the 452d Air refueling Wing were deactivated and their personnel and equipment joined under the 452d Air Mobility Wing on April 1, 1994. On April 1, 1996, March officially became March Air Reserve Base.
The Air Force spent $37 million in 1996 on remediation and was authorized to spend $23 million in 1997. The initial cost estimate to restore March was set at about $300 million and was to be completed by year 2010. A fast track cleanup initiative was expected to cost about $170 million and to be finished by 2000.
The March Field Museum Foundation with nearly 1,000 supporters is now solely responsible for maintaining and displaying approximately 5,000 museum items and 50 aircraft on loan from the Air Force. All Air Force financial contributions ended April 1, 1996 when March Air Force Base was realigned.
The 452nd Air Mobility Wing represents the only unit-equipped mobility wing in the Reserve. The Wing's KC-135 Stratotankers and C-141 Starlifters enable it to effectively perform a worldwide mission 365 days a year. It is the only air mobility wing in the Air Force Reserve Command that possesses all of the elements of an air mobility wing. The 163d Air Refueling Wing (ANG) is a tenant unit at March Air Reserve Base assigned to the Air Mobility Command and the California Air National Guard.
The 4th Air Force, part of Air Force Reserve Command, is headquartered at March ARB. Air Force Reserve Command provides trained units and individuals to accomplish assigned taskings in support of national objectives, and performs peacetime missions that are compatible with training and mobilization readiness requirements. Responsibilities include airlift and refueling duties. It also provides functional mission support units, including aerial port operations, civil engineer, security forces, intelligence, military training, communications, mobility support, combat logistics support, transportation and services.
In early 2001 the FAA selected three military airports for conversion to civil-only or joint-use status as part of a program designed to increase system capacity and reduce air traffic control delays. The airports are Gray Army Airfield in Killeen, TX; March Inland Port, Riverside, CA; and Mather Airport near Sacramento, CA. All will receive an unspecified level of federal funding under the FAA's Military Airport Program (MAP). The selections stemmed from the AIR-21 legislation signed into law in early 2000, which increased the total number of airports eligible for federal Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funding from 12 to 15. The former March Air Force Base has the second longest runway in California (13,000 feet).
During the summer of 2003 nine Air Force Reserve Command installations were re-designated joint bases or stations to reflect the multiservice use of the facilities. The locations and their new designations are: Dobbins Joint Air Reserve Base, Ga.; Grissom JARB, Ind.; Homestead JARB, Fla.; March JARB, Calif.; Minneapolis-St. Paul Joint Air Reserve Station, Minn.; Niagara Falls JARS, N.Y.; Pittsburgh JARS, Pa.; Westover JARB, Mass.; and Youngstown JARS, Ohio.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign March Air Reserve Base, CA. The 163d Air Refueling Wing (ANG) would distribute its nine KC-135R aircraft to the 452d Air Mobility Wing (AFR), March Air Reserve Base (four aircraft); the 157th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Pease International Tradeport Air Guard Station, NH (three aircraft); the 134th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), McGhee-Tyson Airport Air Guard Station, TN (one aircraft); and the 22d Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, KS (one aircraft). The 163d Air Refueling Wing's expeditionary combat support (ECS) would remain in place.
Secretary of Defense Justification: This recommendation would realign aircraft and organizationally optimize March Air Reserve Base. With the highest military value (16) of all air reserve component bases for the tanker mission, March Air Reserve Base would be retained and streamlined from two wing organizational structures to one reserve component flying mission with a more effectively sized KC-135 unit of 12 aircraft. This action would distribute the remaining Air National Guard force structure at March to the higher-ranking active installation, McConnell (15), and two ANG installations, McGhee-Tyson (74) and Pease (105). McGhee-Tyson, though rated lower in military value, would receive one aircraft due to military judgment to robust the squadron to a more effective size of 12 aircraft. Military judgment also placed additional force structure at Pease to support the Northeast Tanker Task Force and also robust the squadron to a more effective size of 12 aircraft. All receiver installations would be increased in operational capability with the additional aircraft because of their proximity to air refueling missions. March'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 $10.8M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a cost of $1.9M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $1.8M, with a payback expected in five years. The net present value of the cost and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $15.5M. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 201 jobs (111 direct jobs and 90 indirect jobs) over 2006-2011 period in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA, Metropolitan Statistical economic area (0.01 percent). Environmentally, there could be potential impacts to air quality; cultural, archeological, or tribal resources; land use constraints or sensitive resource areas; noise; threatened and endangered species or critical habitat; waste management; water resources; and wetlands that might need to be considered during the implementation of this recommendation. Impacts of costs would include $0.4M in costs for environmental compliance and waste management(included in cost calculation).
Community Concerns: The community opposed DoD's recommendation, claiming it is unfounded, adding that moving KC-135 tankers from March ARS, the highest military value ranking reserve component tanker base, to bases of substantially lower military value deviates from the selection criteria and is incongruous with optimizing the force structure.
Commission Findings: The Commission found the recommendation redistributes March's KC-135 aircraft to installations with lower military value. The Commission realigned March Air Reserve Base according to the Commission's Air National Guard and Reserve plan. This realignment would reduce the KC-135 inventory in accordance with DoD's 2025 Force Structure Plan.
The Commission's Air National Guard and Reserve Laydown plan also permits retiring aircraft and strengthening forces to achieve the highest military value. This recommendation directing aircraft movement and personnel actions in connection with Air National Guard installations and organizations is designed to support the Future Total Force. The Commission expects that the Air Force will find new missions where needed, provide retraining opportunities, and take appropriate measures to limit possible adverse personnel impact. The Commission's intent is that the Air Force will act to assign sufficient aircrew and maintenance personnel to units gaining aircraft in accordance with current, established procedures. However, the Commission expects that all decisions with regard to manpower authorizations will be made in consultation with the governor of the state in which the affected Air National Guard unit is located. Any manpower changes must be made under existing authorities, and must be made consistent with existing limitations. Some reclassification of existing positions may be necessary, but should not be executed until the Air Force and the state have determined the future mission of the unit to preclude unnecessary personnel turbulence. This recommendation is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve 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 March Air Reserve Base, CA. Distribute the 163d Air Refueling Wing's (ANG) 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 452nd Air Mobility Wing (AFR), March Air Reserve Base, CA (12 PAA KC-135R/T);
The 157th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Pease International Tradeport Air Guard Station, NH (eight PAA KC-135R/T);
The 108th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), McGuire Air Force Base, NJ (eight PAA KC-135R/T). The 108th Air Refueling Wing's 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;
If the State of California decides to change the organization, composition and location of the 163d Air Refueling Wing (ANG) to integrate the unit into the Future Total Force:
the 163d Air Refueling Wing's Expeditionary Combat Support (ECS) elements remain in place;
reassign a sufficient number of aircrews and maintenance personnel of the 163d Air Refueling Wing (ANG) to the 146th Airlift Wing (ANG), a C-130 unit located at Channel Islands Air Guard Station, California, to bring that unit to a fully manned status, with the Air Force providing retraining where necessary, and;
all other personnel allotted to the 163d Air Refueling Wing (ANG) will remain in place and assume a mission relevant to the security interests of the State of California and consistent with the integration of the unit into the Future Total Force, including but not limited to air mobility, C4ISR, engineering, rescue operations or unmanned aerial vehicles. Where appropriate, unit personnel will be retrained in skills relevant to the emerging mission.
This recommendation does not effect a change to the authorized end-strength of the California Air National Guard. The distribution of aircraft currently assigned to the 163rd Air Refueling Wing (ANG) is based upon a resource-constrained determination by the Department of Defense that the aircraft concerned will better support national security requirements in other locations and is not conditioned upon the agreement of the state.
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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