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Military

BRAC recommendations present beneficial results

by Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle
Air Force Print News


5/19/2005 - WASHINGTON -- Air Force Base Realignment and Closure recommendations provide an opportunity for the Air Force to effectively organize its total force into a more capable and efficient warfighting organization, transforming the Air Force to better meet future threats.

The co-chairman of the Air Force's Base Closure Executive Group said BRAC planning started about four years ago. Air Force leaders recognized an opportunity to review and organize its future total force in respect with the Quadrennial Defense Review, BRAC, and projected retirement of legacy weapons systems.

"We viewed BRAC as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reset the force," said Maj. Gen. Gary W. Heckman, who also is the assistant deputy chief of staff for Air Force plans and programs. "Military value of an installation was the predominant focus of our decisions as we strove to achieve a better warfighting capability."

Decisions to close or realign were not easily made.

"Foremost we had to be totally impartial and treat each installation equally," he said. "Although this is a business decision, BRAC was personal as well. We have people and communities that are affected by our decisions and the choices were not easy."

The Air Force has a heritage of taking care of its people, through the good times and the bad, and will continue to do that through the BRAC implementation process, General Heckman said.

"We're the greatest Air Force on the planet because we have great people and great communities,” he said. “We have programs within DOD and also national programs specifically geared for our Airman and civilians to assist with relocation and transition to new jobs whether they be on active duty or reserve component. There are also programs to assist communities as they deal with the changes that will come with BRAC."

The Future Total Force approach to BRAC was critical in the decision process to harness the value from current Air Force personnel and skills.

"It is essential that we find the right mix for active duty and the reserve component. We have to retain our Guard, Reserve and civilian partners as part of one team and cannot do this mission without them," General Heckman said. "Fact is, in our flying missions, we sustain the current (active duty and reserve component) manpower mix in our future total force."

The focus of the relocation of units and personnel under realignment was mainly driven by the reduction in weapons platforms and the ineffectiveness of current installation assignments to accommodate this smaller fleet of more effective aircraft.

"In order to use the smaller number of aircraft in the most combat effective way, we have to put them in the right sizes," he said. "When you do that you have to do it at fewer locations. This is important, not only for today but for tomorrow."

The executive group left organizational flexibility in the Air Force to capture a whole-team concept to meet state needs to the extent possible, and to adjust to changes in the fall consistent with QDR developments.

"Our return on investment will initially be $1.8 billion," General Heckman said. "We intend to reinvest the freed-up Guard and Reserve manpower into emerging missions that will come up in the QDR."

If the BRAC recommendations are approved, the Air Force would save an estimated $2.6 billion through 2011 and $14.6 billion over the next 20 years.



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