|By G. Michael Dobbs
Westover's C-5s are used in a variety of missions. In response to President Barack Obama's call for the government to support Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, a Westover C-5B flew to March Air Reserve Base, Calif., picked up 73 electrical workers and two utility trucks, and dropped them off at Stewart Air National Guard Base, near New York City, hours later.
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelly Galloway
WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE The impact of reducing the number of aircraft at Westover Air Reserve Base is not known at this time.
Last week, the Air Force Reserve Command announced force structure changes authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013. Those changes include a proposed transfer of 8 C-5M aircraft from Westover ARB to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in 2016, contingent upon a Congressionally-mandated Mobility Requirements and Capabilities Study.
Lt. Col. James Bishop explained to Reminder Publications there are 16 C-5Bs assigned to the base and all 16 would be converted to C-5M models. Eight of those planes would then be assigned to Lackland.
The M-model planes, Bishop said, is a B-Model after a $90 million renovation and a new engine.
How this switch would affect the base's civilian workforce is unknown, Bishop added. According to the base's website, "Westover's economic impact was $237.6 million in 2011, but that number doesn't include the base's 29 tenants, which add another 2,160 personnel to its 740 civilians and 2,600 military. Grand total: about 5,500 people working at Westover."
Col. Steven Vautrain, 439th Airlift Wing Commander, said, "Although this announcement could mean changes for Westover, it also underscores the essential role we play in national defense. Under this announcement, the 439th remains operational and vital to military strategic airlift. We will notify the public when a final decision is made concerning the future number of aircraft and personnel at Westover."
Across the country at other Air Force bases and Air Reserve Bases, some units are being de-activated and aircraft are being retired.
"In a difficult economy, the Air Force has to make tough choices," Maj. Gen. Craig Gourley, vice commander of Air Force Reserve Command, said. "These force structure changes will take place over the next three years and are necessary to help meet Budget Control Act of 2011 resource levels."
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