By Jennifer Bowen
October 4, 2011
Scott Air Force Base has announced 321 permanent civilian positions will be eliminated at the base as part of cuts required by the 2012 Department of Defense budget.
The department instructed the military to stop civilian job growth above what it was in 2010, and that means cutting positions that were added after 2010.
Of the 321 positions identified at Scott, 122 are already vacant and will not be refilled, and 49 positions are held by employees who will retire or voluntarily leave federal service by the end of December. Those positions will not be refilled.
In addition, 40 civilian employees at Scott will be moved to other positions and 110 positions will be eliminated. These employees will have the opportunity to apply for other open positions available at other organizations on the base or take advantage of voluntary separation incentives.
The largest area of job cuts at Scott are expected to come from staff at the 375th Air Mobility Wing, the 375th Civil Engineer Squadron and the 375th Force Support Squadrons, which includes civil engineers, maintenance personnel, logisticians and those working in communications.
The cuts represent 6 percent of the base's 5,085 civilian positions.
The 110 people affected by the reductions were informed Thursday morning their positions will be eliminated.
"This news is never easy. The Air Force is doing this because it is looking out long term to fulfill it's mission, and to do that, you have to make sure your organization is properly positioned," said Col. Michael Hornitschek, commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing. "We feel very badly for the folks that are affected by this because no one likes uncertainty, but we are very strongly committed to working with them to make sure everyone has the best possible outcome in all this. We value them as our most important resource for getting the mission done."
The job cuts will not affect civilian personnel at non-Air Force organizations, such as U.S. Transportation Command and the Army's Military Surface Distribution and Deployment Command, the Defense Information Systems Agency and the Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization.
Although the Air Force is working toward cutting 9,000 civilian positions in management, staff and support, it expects to grow by 5,900 positions in the fields of acquisition, nuclear enterprise, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and other areas.
"This is an Air Force decision," Hornitschek said. "There are other organizations on the base that are not affected. They are still hiring, there are openings and positions on the base, and these folks are fully available to apply for those positions and hopefully make a match. We are looking aggressively for other positions for these folks. These available openings are a need in the military, but not in the Air Force."
Air Reserve Technicians are also not affected by the cuts.
The leadership at Scott Air Force Base did not decide which positions would be eliminated, Hornitschek said. Those decisions were made at the Air Staff level in Washington, D.C.
"As part of the Air Force review, some tough decisions are being made in which areas to resource such as our Intel, nuclear enterprise, acquisition and weapon systems," Hornitschek said. "We'll be looking at how this will affect us and working to ensure we continue to provide the essential services members need and what the mission requires. We are committed to helping our employees through this process."
The Air Force has not established a time frame as to when those 110 positions will be vacated, according to the 375th Air Mobility Wing's public affairs department at Scott.
The Air Force is eliminating civilian positions as part of an ongoing Air Force effort to increase efficiency, reduce overhead and eliminate redundancy.
"We can't be successful without our talented and experienced civilian workforce," Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley said in released statement. "We are making difficult choices about how to deliberately restructure and posture the force and will continue to look for new ways of accomplishing the mission. We can't afford business as usual."
The Air Force could announce another round of reductions in civilian positions after Jan. 1, Hornitschek said.
"After we process all the current voluntary incentive program takers off the books Dec. 31, we will offer a second round of voluntary incentives to all the civilian personnel at Scott Air Force Base,' Hornitschek added.
The Air Force instituted a 90-day hiring freeze in August and started offering voluntary early retirement and voluntary separation incentive programs in September.
Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon pledged to work with state agencies and Scott Air Force Base leadership to identify available resources for the 110 civilians whose positions are being eliminated.
"Scott Air Force Base is an economic engine in Illinois, and I am disappointed that the Air Force had to make this decision," Simon said. "As a native of Troy, a community near Scott Air Force Base where many citizens are employed by the base, I understand the social and economic impact these changes will have in the metro-east region and beyond. The state will use its resources to help get displaced workers back on the job."