WARNER ROBINS -- The newly approved federal defense spending bill includes funding for a significant construction project at Robins Air Force Base.
The budget sets aside $27.7 million for a new complex for the Air Force Reserve Command, but the project will benefit the entire base, said Col. Craig Johnson, chief of the command’s programs division.
The command’s headquarters currently sits on prime real estate near the flightline, but it has no need to be there. The new location will be in a former housing area on the south end of the base, near the base medical clinic. Some command personnel already are working at that location in temporary modular buildings.
It will be a while before any of the roughly 1,000 people who work for the command move. A master plan will be done, and construction likely won’t start until about the fall of 2016, Johnson said.
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The project is only the first phase of a three phase project, so it will likely be several years before the entire command is relocated.
Retired Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, president of the 21st Century Partnership and former commander of Air Force Reserve Command, said it’s a big deal for the money to be in the budget. The initiative first began 10 years ago, he said. The Air Force has tried to get it in the budget before, but the funding has fallen victim to cuts.
One driving force behind the project, he said, is that the command has no need to be near the flightline, but the base’s maintenance operations could really use the space. It also consolidates all of the command under one roof.
“We’ve been trying to do this for a long time,” Stenner said. “It does my heart good.”
The budget included another special funding for Robins, but that item seemed a done deal while the Air Force Reserve Command building was more uncertain. The Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System is getting $74 million to start a long-term effort to replace its decades-old planes with smaller business-type jets.
Also, the Air Force has committed to having no involuntary cuts of military personnel over the next year. About 6,100 were forced out this past year.
Meanwhile, military and civilian personnel are slated to get a 1 percent pay raise.
The budget also rejects retirement of the A-10s, which is a benefit to the Boeing plant in Macon. The plant makes A-10 replacement wings.
The Senate approved the Defense Authorization Act on Friday, and President Barack Obama signed it into law Tuesday.
To contact Wayne Cren-shaw, call 256-9725.