Change coming to Eglin

  • Published
  • By Maj. Gen. Kenneth Merchant
  • Air Armament Center Commander
I want to thank you for coming out to the commander's calls to hear the updates on two important initiatives impacting Eglin. As we all know, the current U.S. fiscal environment requires the Department of Defense and the Air Force to find more efficient and effective ways of doing business.

Earlier this year, the Secretary of Defense challenged the services to meet critical requirements: 1) use a more strategic approach to meet those fiscal challenges; 2) preserve our maximum capabilities, and 3) find strategic solutions aimed at reducing management, staff and support areas while preserving "tooth"--or our core capabilities.

As a result of these challenges, the Air Force has announced several initiatives--two of which have a large impact on the Air Force Materiel Command and Eglin workforce: the AFMC 5-Center Restructure and the Air Force's Global Base Support initiatives.

Let me give you some insight into what the 5-Center Restructure specifically means for Eglin.

Currently, there are 12 centers performing four assigned missions within AFMC. Those missions will be consolidated under five centers by October 1, 2012. The Air Armament Center mission headquartered at Eglin will be integrated into two of the five new centers based on core mission area.

First, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, located at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, will be responsible for ensuring adequate resources are available to support weapon systems. Our current acquisition organization --Armament Directorate-- will now align within AFLCMC for resources and policy. Program execution responsibility will remain unchanged with program authority flowing from Program Executive Officer at Eglin to the Service Acquisition Executive at Headquarters Air Force.

Second, the Air Force Test Center will be located at Edwards AFB, Calif., and will be responsible for all developmental, test and evaluation mission efforts. The 46th Test Wing will report to that organization.

The 96th Air Base Wing functions will be integrated into the expanded 46th Test Wing. When this is accomplished, the 46th TW commander will serve as the installation commander. The implementation date for this restructure is by Oct. 1 2012.

This overall reorganization will realize significant savings in costs and manpower.

The Global Base Support initiative represents a shift in our mind set of traditional base-level support for our Airmen. Airmen today receive support in different ways than their predecessors did. Today, not every base requires every support function that was previously available to our members. We will explore more ways to utilize local communities, standardize services and consolidate or regionalize like functions where possible.

What does this mean for our personnel?

We can't be successful without our talented and experienced civilian workforce. However, to gain efficiencies some reductions are necessary. We are making difficult choices about how to deliberately restructure and posture the workforce and will continue to look for better ways of accomplishing the mission.

We will first use all voluntary personnel management options available to limit impacts on civilian employees, to include attrition, early retirement and incentive opportunities where and when possible.

We have already begun that approach by offering VERA/VSIP to civilians in May 2011. The first round of 38 will be approved and completed by Dec. 31. There will be a second round of VERA/VSIP applications in January 2012 to continue to help us meet our directed end strength. The Eglin civilian numbers involved in this restructuring are:

- 351 total authorizations eliminated (includes test and evaluation funded reductions of 50)
- 38 are approved for VSIP
- 88 percent of the impacted personnel have been matched to vacancies
- We're working 43 placement actions to complete 351 reductions

Together we are shaping the Air Force today to ensure its strength tomorrow. In the future, the Air Force will be leaner, while remaining effective. This means the workforce and installations will look and operate differently in certain respects. We fully support these efforts and are committed to doing everything possible to make every defense dollar count and directly support the warfighter.