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Air Force force structure impact minimal for Nevada Guard

WASHINGTON -- Military officials announced today the imminent force structure changes and manpower impact the Department of Defense strategic guidance and 2013 President's Budget will have on the U.S. Air Force in the near future.

Released March 6, the 2013 President's Budget adjusts the Air Force's total end strength to 501,000, with net reductions of 3,900 active duty, 5,100 Air National Guard and 900 Air Force Reserve positions.

The adjustments will have a minimal impact on the Nevada Air Guard. Nevada's 152nd Airlift Wing, the C-130 transport unit based in Reno, will see no manpower reductions as a result of today's announcement. The Air Guard said its intention is to keep at least one flying unit in each state.

However, four full-time positions will be eliminated within the Air Guard's 232nd Operations Squadron based at Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas.
The active duty Air Force in Nevada, largely at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas, gains 158 positions, and the Air Force Reserves in Nevada gained eight positions.
The adjutant general for Nevada, Brig. Gen. Bill Burks, said he had mixed feelings about today's disclosure.

"Although I am extremely satisfied with the overall plus up for Nevada, I am also extremely disappointed with the flawed process the Air Force used," said the commander for the Nevada National Guard. "It makes absolutely no sense for the Nevada Air National Guard to lose four fulltime positions and have the Air Force Reserve gain additional positions at the same location."

According to the Air Force Chief of Staff, the Air Force's strategy is to apply resources to the people, programs, and systems that will best contribute to the new Department of Defense strategic guidance.

"Working with our Guard and reserve leaders, we used a balanced approach to adjust our total force end strength while maintaining the ability to execute strategic guidance," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz. "Our total force programmed reductions follow detailed assessments of future conflict scenarios and rotational requirements consistent with the new strategic guidance."

The Air Force also announced manpower changes surrounding documents concerning the previously announced force structure reduction of 227 aircraft as well as additional adjustments not tied to aircraft. These changes primarily include the inactivation of a combat communications group and several air control squadrons, as well as refining the number of Airmen in Air Force bands.

"We made a deliberate decision to avoid a hollow force by prioritizing readiness over force structure," Schwartz said. "A smaller, ready force is preferable to a larger force that is ill-prepared because it lacks adequate resources."

Achieving the proper active and reserve component manpower balance became a priority under the new strategic guidelines for the Air Force's future. Since then, governors received an opportunity to provide input to the plan as reserve component force structure reductions directly or indirectly impacts all 54 states and territories.
"Our collaborative process with the Guard and reserve yields a force with the most effective posture for surge capability and steady-state operational employment," Schwartz said. "Achieving the correct active and reserve forces balance is critical for meeting our forward presence, rapid response, and high rotational demands with a smaller force."

The Air Guard will also internally realign its remaining manpower at units across the United States to properly source emerging force structure requirements and bolster readiness, said Brig. Gen. Brian Neal, the Air National Guard Readiness Center commander.

"We will also repurpose manpower positions at combat readiness training centers, command and control units and flying squadrons," Neal said. "The realignment of military positions will improve our combat capability and ensure we are able to maintain our rapid response requirements as defined in Titles 10 and 32.
"Although we will retain fewer units available to deploy, we will maintain overall capacity and sustain command and control structure."

To prepare for the 2013 end strength reductions, the Air Force is evaluating the entire suite of currently authorized force management programs to determine which ones will best size and shape the force to support force structure changes, said William Booth, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Force Management Integration.
"We plan to announce additional 2012 programs for the active component in the coming weeks, but neither the Air National Guard nor Air Force Reserve currently has force management programs scheduled for implementation this year," Booth said.