Hill Air Force Base faces cutbacks

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By Dallin Hatch

In an announcement on Nov. 2 from Air Force officials plans were unveiled to downsize civilian positions nation-wide as part of a larger restructuring of its facilities. This decision has Utah lawmakers worried about the local economy.

The plan, in an effort to save $400 billion, includes provisions to eliminate more than 250 positions at Hill Air Force Base in Ogden by the end of 2012.

The announcement prompted a barrage of responses from state officials.

In the statement Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said the announcement surprised and troubled him.

“The state is deeply disappointed with today’s announcement, particularly given the lack of public process and absence of local input,” Herbert said. “With so much other waste in Washington, this hasty decision appears to be short-sighted and even counter-productive.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, said the decision ignored the efficiency and production value of employees at the base.

“I firmly believe that the command at Hill and the Ogden Air Logistic Center would be able to work with the Air Force to meet the service’s – and Utahns’ – goal of saving taxpayer dollars and maintaining the strongest military in the world,” Hatch said. “I’m going to continue to press the Air Force on maintaining the current logistics center infrastructure and do everything I can to ensure the 24,000 jobs at Hill remain in northern Utah.”

Hill Air Force Base is composed of two major divisions: the Fighter Wings and the Ogden Air Logistics Center. The proposal from the Air Force would change the name and nature of the complex. Ogden’s commander would no longer be a Major General, but a Brigadier General. The Ogden facility would need to change its name from an Air Logistics Center to an Air Logistics Complex, according to the news release.

The plan would keep the base’s functions and missions intact, including the future F-22 Raptor program. The secretary of the Air Force also said Hill Air Force Base is still on track to receive the first three operational F-35 Joint Strike Fighter squadrons when they are completed.

Despite these assurances, Congressman Rob Bishop, said the plan doesn’t include enough information to allay his concerns.

“The Air Force has remained elusive about the details of this plan,” Bishop said. “They have been less than forthcoming about what personnel reductions may occur and where, as well as the overall impact this will have on jobs, Utah, Hill AFB and efficiency amongst all Air Logistics Centers.”

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