HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – Hundreds of positions will be eliminated at Langley Air Force Base base as part of a nationwide reduction at Air Combat Command Headquarters.
Air Force leaders made the announcement Monday. In all, 742 positions will be affected at the base in Hampton. Capt. Ericka Yepsen with the Pentagon explained that 502 of those positions are being cut due to Management Headquarters Review and another 240 positions will be trimmed due to the creation of an Installation and Mission Support Center.
JBLE in Norfolk, Va. is going to lose an additional three positions.
Capt. Yepsen said the elimination of positions does not necessarily mean the elimination of people. Major Mary Danner-Jones at the Pentagon said the affected individuals will be notified later this month. So for now, Langley Air Force Base families wait to find out what positions are getting cut.
“I don’t know whether to start packing our stuff or whether to stay put,” said Trina. “I don’t know what to do.”
More than seven months ago, on Christmas Eve to be exact, the mother of eight learned cuts were coming to the Air Force, and that her husband could lose his job. Her fear only intensified with Monday’s announcement about Langley.
“It is extremely scary,” she added. “You have a family to provide for, and come December 1, we could be homeless and jobless. It affects all military families. Nobody knows who is going to get cut or who’s going to be able to stay in.”
Trina’s husband is currently deployed in Iraq and has no way to job hunt. They continue to hope there will be no job hunt.
A U.S. Air Force news release states the reorganization will help “meet the Department of Defense’s directive to reduce costs and staff levels by at least 20 percent, eliminating 3,459 positions at headquarters across the Air Force, both in country and at overseas locations.”
The job losses at Langley come at a bad time for the Hampton Roads job market, which saw a decrease in jobs over the last year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports only two of the 38 largest metropolitan areas in the country saw job losses during the last year — Hampton Roads and Detroit. The number of jobs in both areas were down slightly between May 2013 and May of this year.
“Anything that affects Langley definitely impacts us,” said Laura Favata from Anna’s Pizza and Italian Restaurant, the closest eatery to the base for more than 40 years. Employees there know the reduction will be felt everywhere.
“I think that over 700 jobs is a significant number of loss. It hurts us a lot. When you’re talking about family members at the base, we are losing a lot of our clientele,” Favata said.
Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) provided WAVY.com with the following statement in reaction to the announcement:
While I appreciate the Air Force’s efforts to find savings by consolidating headquarters functions, I am deeply concerned about the impact this potential cut would have on Joint Base Langley-Eustis’s hard-working airmen and civilian work force. While it appears that many of these reductions can be accomplished through attrition and eliminating unfilled positions, I have requested a briefing from the Air Force where I can ask tough questions about this proposed plan. I also urge Air Force leadership to consider locating its consolidated headquarters at Langley, where they could enjoy proximity to the Pentagon and other defense organizations.
Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) provided WAVY.com with the following statement in reaction to the announcement:
The decision by the Air Force to consolidate headquarters and eliminate positions at Joint Base Langley-Eustis and in the National Capital Region will impact Virginia families, but we understand the impact is lessened because most of the positions are not currently filled. Our servicemembers and defense civilians are a critical aspect of our military, and I will advocate for new opportunities for them to continue their service. As the Air Force considers locations for the Air Force Installation Mission Support Center (AFIMSC) and Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency (25th Air Force), I strongly urge consideration of the unmatched infrastructure and dynamic environment offered in Virginia, particularly at Langley.