Vienna air base to lose 130 positions, a 7% cut

By Denise Dick

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The Youngstown Air Reserve Station will lose 97 part-time and 33 full-time positions in fiscal year 2013, part of the plan to cut $487 billion from the defense budget over the next 10 years.

It amounts to about a 7 percent work-force reduction.

Col. Reinhard Schmidt, 910th Airlift Wing commander, said that the wing would work to take care of wing members.

“While we do not yet know which of our service members will be affected by the proposed manning changes, the 910th is dedicated to assisting our assigned citizen airmen and their families,” Schmidt said in a news release.

The part-time spots are drilling reservist positions and the full-time jobs are air reserve technician/civilian positions.

“We don’t want to see any jobs lost here — we’re no different than any other organization — but 7 percent isn’t a huge percentage,” said Maj. Brent Davis, public-affairs officer at the local base.

Station officials don’t know yet when or how the cuts will occur.

The planned manning reductions take effect after the FY13 budget is approved by Congress and signed into law by the president.

The 97 part-time drilling reservist positions being cut come from 1,389 traditional reservists at the base, said civilian base spokesman Eric White.

The 33 full-time air reserve technician/civilian positions are from the 414 assigned civilians. That number includes the full-time air reserve technicians (ARTs) and traditional civilians.

The annual payroll at the station totals about $29 million for military personnel and nearly $27 million for civilians.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, said he’s disappointed by the cuts, but “thankful that the Mahoning Valley avoided deeper cuts that could have set back our community’s economic development efforts.”

“This nationwide reduction will continue, and everyone will be asked to sacrifice,” Ryan added. “But there will also be consolidation and the shifting of missions. My goal as a member of the Armed Services Committee is to begin the process of trying to land more missions, personnel and technology at Youngstown. ”

Eric Planey, vice president of international business attraction at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, said the chamber doesn’t like to see any job losses in the Mahoning Valley.

“We’ve seen some great job announcements lately, but as with any local economy, you have ups and downs,” he said. “This is one of the recent downs.”

A Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission, or BRAC, process is ongoing, and decisions are expected next year. BRAC is a process used by the Defense Department and Congress to decide which excess military installations to close and to realign units to cut operations and maintenance costs and improve efficiency.

During the last BRAC in 2005, the chamber and area elected officials mounted a campaign to save the Youngstown Air Reserve Station from closure.

Planey said there’s no solid movement yet toward a similar campaign. “We’re very interested in seeing Valley leaders stepping up and saving the air base as soon as possible,” he said.

Paul Heltzel, Trumbull County commissioner, said he was not aware in advance that the jobs would be lost, but it made sense that the loss of two aircraft (announced earlier) would produce a reduction in staffing.

Heltzel said most of the jobs being lost are part-time, but they paid well, so it’s an employment loss “we’re going to have to overcome somewhere else.”

Heltzel noted that he’s optimistic that Mahoning County commissioners will approve an increase in the county’s hotel-motel tax soon to provide the Western Reserve Port Authority with funding that could be used to support the air base. Trumbull County already has done so. Examples would be to maintain the runways or purchase equipment to maintain runways at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport, which the air base shares with the airport.

The Air Force Reserve’s share of the total cuts is to decrease its manning from 71,400 to 70,500 people.

Besides the reduction of 900 Air Force reservists, the Air Force plans to decrease by 3,900 active-duty airmen and 5,100 Air National Guard airmen. These manning cuts are part of the Air Force’s force-structure changes to align with the president’s FY13 budget plan presented to Congress last month.

The job losses at the 910th are a portion of the 3,000 job changes that will realign affected reservists into new career fields and help the total force reduce manning by 9,900 airmen in FY 2013, a news release said.

“We expect to lower the majority of our manning numbers through normal attrition and reduced recruiting accessions,” Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner Jr., chief of the Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon, said in a news release. “As we do this, we’re realigning our people into the missions that we expect to endure or be new areas of growth in the future.”

Contributor: Ed Runyan, staff writer

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