Va. lawmakers fight for Air Force center at Langley

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) – This week we learned details about the personnel reductions at Joint Base Langley-Eustis are expected in about a month. So, 10 On Your Side talked with the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Alliance about the status of the coming changes.

Just a couple days ago, lawmakers said Air Force officials are considering their request to place a new Installation and Mission Support Center at Langley. The goal — to ease the impact of cutting hundreds of current positions.

Craig Quigley, head of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Alliance, said the writing was on the wall for the decisions the Air Force is making now.

“It’s a sign of the times,” Quigley said. “The defense budget is flat or declining, and one way to recover some of that in this environment is to reduce headcount. The Air Force has made a deliberate decision to take all of that out early and then reinvest the savings over the next several years.”

The Secretary of Defense has directed all services to reduce staff by 20 percent. The Air Force announced that realignment would eliminate about 3,500 positions as of October, with Joint base Langley-Eustis suffering the largest blow — losing 742 positions.

But Quigley said most of those 742 positions have already been empty for some time. The handling of the rest will depend on whether the people being let go are civil servants or uniformed personnel.

“If you’re uniformed, you may have a little bit of an adjustment on your next assignment, but for the most part you’ll be unaffected. When you eventually leave, you will not be replaced,” Quigley said.

The Air Force will be trying to work with civil servants to find them another spot, or help them with voluntary early retirement.

In the meantime, Virginia’s congressional delegation took one more step in their fight for the Installation and Mission Support Center. They met with the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, among others, this week.

“She promised to consider evaluating the merits of placing that new organization at Langley, and we’ll see,” Quigley said. “It’s the most we can hope for, at this point.”

That center could create up to 350 new positions at Air Combat Command at Langley. Quigley said the base has a lot going for it, especially with its proximity to Washington, D.C. But there are likely several other installations across the country making similar requests.

Air Force officials have promised specifics on personnel reduction in 30 days.

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