Two of the Air Force bases that will fold under the joint basing umbrella dictated by BRAC 2005 recently held town hall meetings to quell rumors. At Bolling AFB, D.C., which will be placed under Navy control as Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, the meeting focused on civilian employees, who are encouraged to “look forward to the opportunities of the future” in an Oct. 10 release by Lt. Col. Thomas Carroll, 11th Civil Engineer Squadron commander at Bolling. He said that the 11th Wing began working with Navy counterparts at NAS Anacostia in August 2005 and created functional working groups to iron out specifics, working toward a JB memorandum of agreement that would precede the switch in 2010. At McChord AFB, Wash., which will merge with Ft. Lewis to become JB Lewis-McChord, some 300 civilians heard from Col. Jeffrey Stephenson, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, that “there is no intention of cutting our civilian workforce.” The mission of the airlift wing “is going to continue,” he said, since the intent of the joint-basing action is to merge installation support functions not operational missions. Still, that has been a major sticking point for the Air Force, since it considers its operational bases, like McChord, combat platforms. (Read more in The Joint Base Dispute) According to a Sept. 26 release from McChord, more than two-thirds of the base civilians fear they will either lose jobs or status and pay. The base expects to complete a classification process to determine which positions are mission and which support by next fall. Once the merger is complete—also in September 2010—those identified as support will become Army civilians. They may go into lower-grade positions, but Col. Shane Hershman, Air Mobility Command’s JB Lewis-McChord initiative director, assured them at the meeting, that they would retain the same salary.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.