NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The Air Force said Monday it will eliminate nearly 3,500 positions over the next five years, with Virginia being harder hit than any other state.
The military branch released its plans to save $1.6 billion under a Defense Department directive to slash its costs and staff by at least 20 percent. The plan calls for significant reductions at major Air Force commands around the country, including 742 positions at Joint Base Langley-Eustis. The installation is home to Air Combat Command, which oversees fighter jets, among other things.
The Air Force said it plans to pursue the cuts sooner, rather than later.
"We are aggressively pursuing reductions within the first year, rather than spread them out over five years as allowed by DoD," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said in a statement. "It's better for airmen because it provides them predictability and allows us to re-stabilize our workforce sooner."
Other major cuts include 372 positions at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; 292 at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois; 429 at Joint Base San Antonio; 275 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado; and 238 positions at Hickam Air Force base, Hawaii.
The Air Force also said its headquarters staff would lose 734 positions, including 522 positions in the National Capital Region.
Of the 3,459 positions being eliminated worldwide, 923 of those are coming from personnel who provide installation and mission support. The Air Force is creating a new center to handle much of those responsibilities, which will have a staff of 350. The Air Force has not specified where that center will be located, although it will report to Air Force Materiel Command, which is headquartered at Wright-Patterson.
The Air Force has not said how many of the positions being eliminated will be civilians, but it said would offer early retirement and voluntary separation incentive pay program to get civilians to leave.
At Joint Base Langley-Eustis, which also plays host to a major Army command, about 6,100 civilians work for the Defense Department on base. The installation has about 17,000 military personnel.
Craig Quigley, executive director of the Hampton Roads Federal Facilities and Military Alliance in Virginia, said it's too early to tell how much of an impact the cuts will have on the heavily military-dependent region.
"We have a number, but I don't know yet what that means as far as specifically identifying the impacts locally," he said. "Are those 742 billets, are some number of them currently unfilled and they're simply not going to be filled? Or does every one of the 742 have a person in it today?"
Other installations losing positions under the plan announced Monday include 167 at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana; 27 at Hill Air Force Base, Utah; 19 at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; 31 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; and 22 at Hurlburt Field, Florida.