Washington, D.C. (AP) - The Air Force said Wednesday it plans to
eliminate 9,000 civilian jobs in a cost-saving move, with more
reductions to come later as part of a military-wide effort to
adjust to a new era of defense spending cuts.
"We clearly understand the turbulence these and future
reductions will cause in the workforce," Gen. Norton A. Schwartz,
the Air Force chief of staff, said in an announcement that
triggered criticism from members of Congress from states affected
by the changes. Schwartz said the Air Force would try hard to
achieve the job reductions through attrition and other management
moves to avoid forced layoffs.
After growing rapidly for a decade, the Pentagon budget is
headed for substantial reductions. The Obama administration is
committed to cuts of between $450 billion and $465 billion over the
next 12 years and cuts approximately double that size could be
imposed depending on the outcome of congressional budget
The Air Force did not spell out the full range of its planned
job reductions but said a portion would come from a reorganization
of the command that is its largest employer of civilians -- the Air
Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
That command's restructuring is to be done by October 2012.
The Air Force said the Materiel Command will not be the only
major command affected by the cutbacks, but it mentioned no others.
It said workers "Air Force-wide" will be informed of changes in
the next several days.
Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant is expected to discuss how the
changes will affect Eglin Air Force Base, near Pensacola, Fla., on
The announced moves will cut 9,000 civilian positions in
management, staff and support at several bases. The Air Force says
separately it plans to add 5,900 positions in other, higher-priority areas like weapons buying, nuclear weapons management and the expanding field of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It offered no details on that expansion.
Brig. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force director of manpower, said
officials are still working on details of how to reduce by a further 4,500 civilian jobs. "There is more work to be done," to achieve savings, she said.
The Utah congressional delegation sent a letter Wednesday to Air
Force Secretary Michael Donley to complain that the cutbacks could
hurt Hill Air Force Base, Utah. They called the Air Force's
decision-making process "secretive and subjective" and complained
that it left many questions unanswered.
In the Air Force announcement at the Pentagon, Donley was quoted
as saying he realized the decisions would be difficult for some to
"We can't afford business as usual," Donley said.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)