December 25, 2014

Air Force eliminates 19 positions at Joint Base Charleston

A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston (Image: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Dennis Sloan)

A C-17 Globemaster III assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing at Joint Base Charleston (Image: U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Dennis Sloan)

The Air Force said it plans to eliminate 19 positions at Joint Base Charleston as it reduces its forces by more than 3,400 jobs overall in the next five years.

Air Force leaders did not identify the specific jobs in an announcement Monday, but said the nationwide cuts would come among its headquarters staff, major commands, numbered air forces, and field operating agencies.

“I will work to ensure the world’s best Air Force is the most capable at the lowest possible cost to the taxpayer,” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said in a statement. “Everyone knows our economy is still not where it should be; we have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar adds value to the taxpayers and our national defense.”

The Air Force said the move is designed to increase efficiencies inside the branch as the war in Afghanistan winds down. The announcement said the cuts would reduce staff levels by at least 20 percent, eliminating 3,459 positions at headquarters across the Air Force both nationwide and at overseas locations.

The State newspaper reported Wednesday that South Carolina’s two Air Force bases had only minor or no reductions compared to other locations, while more than 700 positions eliminated at the Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon. Officials did not specify which positions would be eliminated at Joint Base Charleston, but the announcement said many support functions will soon be centralized into the new Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center.

“We were very thankful that the cuts at Joint Base Charleston are minimal compared to what’s happening elsewhere around the country,” said Mary Graham of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, who represents the region on South Carolina’s Military Base Task Force. The task force is tasked with making South Carolina’s culture as “military-friendly” as possible to convince the Defense Department and the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) not to shutter any of the state’s eight installations.

Joint Base Charleston houses two c-17 Globemaster transportation squadrons that make up the 628th Air Base Wing, along with other support functions. Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, which houses Air Force Central, was not affected by this week’s announcement.

“We realize there will be cuts down the road,” Military Base Task Force chairman Bill Bethea said in an email. “The goal of the Task Force is to make South Carolina as well-positioned as possible so that we ultimately feel the least amount of these types of staffing reductions among our military installations.”

The Air Force hopes the cuts will save $1.6 billion.