Scott questions plan to cut jobs at Air Force Reserve Command

wcrenshaw@macon.comJuly 15, 2014 

An Air Force cost-cutting plan that would eliminate 258 jobs at Robins Air Force Base might not save money if it jeopardizes readiness, U.S. Rep. Austin Scott said Tuesday.

A day after the cuts at Air Force Reserve Command were announced, Scott said in an email that he has concerns about the plan. The Ashburn Republican represents the 8th District, which includes Robins.

“This proposal may be viewed as a cost-saving measure on the surface, but it would likely lead to higher costs in the future if it results in a less ready force,” he said in the email. “Not only does the impact on the workers concern me, but we must also ensure that the Air Force Reserve Command is not forced to compromise on its mission or take cuts disproportionate to other commands.”

The cuts are part of an Air Force-wide initiative to cut overhead at the command level, which would eliminate 3,459 civilian and military jobs across the country.

“We are still in the process of determining how we will meet the Air Force’s target for reductions,” Lt. Gen. James F. Jackson, Air Force Reserve Command’s commander, said in a release. “To the extent possible, we will take advantage of existing vacancies and natural attrition to minimize the impact to our employees.”

He did not specify how many of the cuts might come from eliminating positions that are not currently filled, or the timeline for making the cuts. The plan calls for making the cuts over the next five years.

Jackson said he expects that the reductions will affect active-duty military, civilians and part-time Reservists assigned to the headquarters. “We recognize the effect that reductions of this magnitude will have on our employees and our community,” Jackson added.

Col. Rob Palmer, the command’s spokesman, said the command does have vacant positions, but it also has other areas where it has more people hired than authorized, which is allowed temporarily under certain rules. But that will have to be examined to determine how many of the cuts can be met by eliminating vacant positions.

He could not say whether the cuts might be achieved with little or no layoffs.

“Our goal is to impact as few people as possible,” he said.

He also said the command is trying to determine whether the 258 cuts number is correct to meet to command’s requirements under the plan.

Air Force Reserve Command’s headquarters has 1,223 full-time equivalent positions authorized, the release stated, but it did not say how many of those are vacant. Earlier this year, following a proposal that would have eliminated the command but was ultimately defeated, the command said that about 1,000 people were currently employed there.

The Air Force’s announcement of the cuts Monday said it was the result of a Department of Defense mandate for all branches to cut costs and staff levels by at least 20 percent.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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