Leader Blues

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

TOP STORY >> DoD has final say on base strength

By JOHN HOFHEIMER
Leader staff writer

No one seems sure how many additional C-130s Little Rock Air Force Base will receive in the wake of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations, but ultimately that will be a Defense Department decision, not a decision by the BRAC Commission.

That’s according to Jim Schaefer, communications director for the BRAC Commission in Washington.
How many of the 77 additional planes and 3,898 jobs proposed for Little Rock Air Force Base by the Defense De-partment will end up at the base is still a big question mark.

Schaefer did say that nine, instead of 18, C-130Hs are headed for the 189th Air Education Wing of the Air National Guard, which shares the base, and the Guard says it is grateful for those.
But as for the active Air Force, the 314th Airlift Wing, Little Rock Air Force Base brass don’t know how many planes it will get.

Schaefer says he doesn’t know either. He says the commission “severed” the movement of planes from the original motion to expand the mission of the base, so the movement of planes and personnel could fluctuate.
Instead of a specific number of additional planes, the recommendation for more planes at LRAFB will specify “at the discretion of the secretary of defense,” said Schaefer.

“How they get there or where they come from is left to the discretion of the Air Force,” said Schaefer.
He said he had hoped that a final BRAC Air Force rendering would be available on the BRAC website by Tuesday evening, but it was not there by 9:30 p.m.

Schaeffer confirmed that the 24 C-130s recommended for reassignment from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas to Little Rock were taken off the table when the commission recommended that Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota remain open.
“It’s been a marathon week for us,” Schaeffer said.

Cong. Vic Snyder said Tuesday, “My staff and I continue to make inquiries of the impact of BRAC on Little Rock Air Force Base, but we have been unable to get information that we believe to be final and reliable.”
“We don’t know any more than we did,” said Lt. Jon Quinlan, spokesman for the 314th Airlift Wing. “We’re still trying to figure out what the deal is. We haven’t received any information from headquarters.”
Sgt. Bob Oldham, a spokesman for the Air National Guard at the base, said it expects to receive nine C-130Hs to replace eight older model C-130s, “although nothing is certain.”

“(Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld wanted us to get 14 H models and four Js,” he said.
But Oldham is not complaining.

“They are modernizing our fleet, and we gained one extra aircraft,” he said.