You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Top general at Wright-Patt says cuts will be ‘far-reaching’

In an exclusive interview, Gen. Wolfenbarger says ‘impact on my people, especially my civilians will be significant.”


Air Force spending cuts will slow plans to modernize an aging fleet, delay or cancel acquisition programs, ground flight testing to a halt except for a new stealth fighter, and could create up to a five-year backlog at maintenance depots, the leader of the Air Force Materiel Command told the Dayton Daily News in an exclusive interview.

Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger, AFMC commander based at Wright-Patterson, said automatic cuts known as sequestration will have a major impact on missions, installations and hit hard 60,000 civilian employees who face potential furloughs at nine bases in nine states.

The civilians in her command, including 13,000 at Wright-Patterson, could face 22-day furloughs between April and September, a 20 percent pay cut during that time. Seventy-seven percent of the 80,000-member AFMC workforce are civilian employees.

“The impact on my people, especially my civilians will be significant,” she said. “I don’t know anyone who can take a 20 percent cut to their income, with minimal notice, and not feel it. Many of my employees live paycheck to paycheck.”

Many have talked about finding part-time work or withdrawing money from retirement accounts “to make ends meet,” she said.

“This is devastating,” Wolfenbarger said. “We have broken faith with our civilian airmen.”

Furloughs would begin in April once employees receive a 30-day notice.

An exact estimate of the size of the cuts isn’t yet known until Congress approves a final appropriation. But the command has planned for a $1.4 billion reduction, or 40 percent of what’s left in a readiness account and an additional $300 million, or 29 percent less for operations, according to AFMC. It’s all part of the $43 billion the Department of Defense must eliminate from spending between now and September under sequestration. The Air Force faces a more than $14 billion share of that cut between sequestration and a shortfall in wartime spending.

“Sequestration will be far-reaching across AFMC,” the general said in response to Dayton Daily News questions. “Sequestration impacts every piece of the AFMC mission and, as a result, the entire Air Force.”

Spending cuts at Wright-Patterson will also slow research and technology development at Air Force Research Laboratory directorates and force the cancellation of most evening and weekend special events at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, Wolfenbarger said.

In other impacts, she said:

  • The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, headquartered at Wright-Patterson, will slow replacing and modernizing aging Air Force aircraft. “Acquisition programs will be delayed or canceled, some costs will rise, and much needed capabilities will take longer to get into the hands of our warfighters,” the four-star general said.
  • The Air Force Test Center will be “significantly impacted” at test ranges. All flight testing will be grounded and test support suspended by the end of June, with the exception of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and a summer test pilot school will be canceled at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California.
  • The Air Force Sustainment Center, headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, will cut operations at three depots that could mean the deferment of maintenance and modification work on roughly 297 aircraft and 197 engines, a 40 percent drop in operations. “Depot operations will slow down, aircraft availability and mission capable rates will drop, and some aircraft will simply be grounded,” Wolfenbarger said. “It could take up to five years for depot operations to ‘catch up’ once fully funded.”

 

Communities surrounding AFMC bases — such as Fairborn, Riverside, Huber Heights and Dayton — will also feel the pinch of less money in the economy, the general said.

“Less money in the pockets of our civilians means less money to spend at the local grocery store, restaurant or movie theater,” she said. “Less money will go to local taxes that pay for roads, schools and infrastructure.”

The spending cuts could mean contract modifications with defense contractors, Wolfenbarger added.

“Small contractors, who provide everything from office supplies to bomb fuses, will be hit especially hard since they do not have the financial depth of larger financial contractors,” she said.

A suspension of spending on base maintenance for all but the most critical needs will be felt, too, she said.

“My people will come to work at bases where streets, buildings and housing will see all but emergency upkeep delayed,” she said.

She held out hope Congress could lessen the impact with House approved legislation sent to the Senate. The bill adds $10 billion to the military’s operation and maintenance accounts, boosting spending to $173.4 billion, but takes money from personnel, procurement, research and development to account for the difference, according to The Associated Press. The legislation would eliminate the threat of a government shutdown when a continuing funding resolution ends March 27.

“While not all that we requested, we hope the bill, when eventually reconciled with a Senate version, will give the Department of Defense more clarity and more flexibility as it carries out sequestration reductions,” she said.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Military

For Kettering Army Ranger, service was ‘all he lived and breathed’
For Kettering Army Ranger, service was ‘all he lived and breathed’

Cameron H. Thomas joined the Fairmont High School swim team and practiced mixed martial arts because he wanted to become an Army Ranger, his father said. It was the future soldier’s passion. “It’s all he lived and breathed,” Andre L. Thomas, 58, said of his 23-year-old son. “Whatever he set his mind to, he did.”...
Pentagon: Kettering soldier may have been killed by friendly fire
Pentagon: Kettering soldier may have been killed by friendly fire

The father of a Kettering soldier killed in Afghanistan said his son knew the risks of war but was driven to become an Army Ranger.   “We had talks about the possibility of losing his life and he always said that he’d rather die defending his country and defending his family then dying in a car accident or cancer,” said Andre...
Air Force calls on hackers to find cyber vulnerabilities for a bounty
Air Force calls on hackers to find cyber vulnerabilities for a bounty

The Air Force is looking for a few good hackers. A cyber competition will launch soon to urge computer hackers to find vulnerabilities in Air Force public websites, much as a Department of Defense contest dubbed “Hack the Pentagon” did last year. “We’d like to find out which vulnerabilities are out there that we have not yet...
Mechanicsburg library to honor local veterans
Mechanicsburg library to honor local veterans

The Mechanicsburg Library is collecting photos of veterans with connections to the village. Library director Tammie Beers said they are trying to build the library’s digital image collection and share it with the community. “It’s a way to help build that, and it is a way to encourage people to contribute and honor our veterans,&rdquo...
EXCLUSIVE: Top Air Force general says ‘all programs are at risk’
EXCLUSIVE: Top Air Force general says ‘all programs are at risk’

The absence of a defense budget is the biggest threat the Air Force faces today as it grapples with adversaries and threats around the world, the service branch’s top general says. In an exclusive interview Tuesday with this news outlet, Gen. David L. Goldfein addressed, among other priorities, the consequences a lack of a budget would cause...
More Stories