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Air Guard job losses temporary, official says

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The 136 full-time jobs cut from the Hulman Regional Airport Air Guard Station should only be seen as a temporary loss, a Joint Forces official said Monday.

The cuts were announced Friday in a list of nearly 800 military locations nationwide that face possible closure or realignment. Six bases in Indiana including the Newport Chemical Depot could face closure while the Airport Air Guard Station will only be realigned.

"I honestly view this as a temporary loss," said Lt. Col. Shane Halbrook of the Joint Force Headquarters. "By no means do I view this as a terminal loss."

Halbrook said he sees new missions ahead for the local Air Guard, although all 15 of their aircraft will be gone by 2007.

In the meantime, employees at the station will continue duties such as security police and fire protection, he said.

According to defense-link.mil, nine of Terre Haute's 181st Fighter Wing F-16 aircrafts will be given to the Fort Wayne International Airport Air Guard Station and the other six will be retired.

"The F-35 was designed to replace the F-16," he said.

Jobs will most likely be returning to Terre Haute because they will be ready to receive the F-35 aircrafts and because many overseas bases created during the Cold War are now being closed and those jobs brought back to the United States, he said.

"One hundred and thirty six is a temporary loss and as we get new missions... there will be an actual increase overtime," he said.

Halbrook said this round of closures will eventually become a thing of the past.

"I think this will be one of the last ones you'll see," he said.

This has been the fifth Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) since sometime in the 1980s. Prior to that BRACs happened every two to five years, he said.

The President must approve and submit the Commission's recommendations for Congress to review before any actions will be taken. The process is expected to be completed by the end of 2005.

The six bases in Indiana facing potential closure include New Marine Corps Reserve Center, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Bunker Hill; Navy Recruiting District Headquarters, Indianapolis; Navy Reserve Center, Evansville; U.S. Army Reserve Center, Lafayette; Newport Chemical Depot, Newport, and U.S. Army Reserve Center, Seston.

Other military employee cuts could include nearly 700 of Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center's 4,000 jobs, according to The Associated Press.

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