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New Orleans to be first AF Reserve BRAC closure

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Air Force Reserve Command’s 926th Fighter Wing at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans will be the command’s first wing affected by the most recent Base Realignment and Closure.

Moved up a year, resources from the 926th will begin realigning to four bases – Buckley Air Force Base, Colo.; Nellis AFB, Nev.; Whiteman AFB, Mo.; and Barksdale AFB, La. – with the first A-10s moving to Whiteman and Barksdale March 15. The A-10 moves will remain temporary until environmental impact assessments are completed. 

Headquarters AFRC officials here announced the realignments Jan. 20. 

While the timeline for realigning the 926th is earlier than many expected, the officials stress that an early move is necessary because Hurricane Katrina caused extensive damage to the New Orleans base. 

“The timeline for moving aircraft and closing the 926th Fighter Wing is based on two key factors – the need to transform the military and the way we do business, and taking care of our personnel,” said Maj. Gen. Charles Stenner, director of plans and programs at Headquarters AFRC. 

“In order to promote the readiness of our flying wings, resources from the 926th must shift to other bases,” said General Stenner. “Mission demands dictate that timeline.”
After assessing the damage done by the hurricane, it was determined that the unit would not be able to maintain wartime readiness past a certain point. 

“Moving the A-10s to two of our other bases will increase overall mission effectiveness,” said the general. 

Before the moves are considered permanent, the units receiving the BRAC additions must successfully complete environmental impact evaluations over the next few months. In addition to the aircraft and equipment moves, the realignment is scheduled to move about 840 people from New Orleans by Sept. 30. 

“It is never the easy or desirable course of action to displace men and women who have devoted their lives to defending our nation,” said General Stenner. “People are our most valuable asset, and we’ll do everything possible to assist every member of the unit – traditional reservists, technicians and civilians – in finding new jobs.” 

While closing the New Orleans wing early in the BRAC process will help meet mission demands, it will also provide displaced members with a head start on making long-term plans. 

“Our people will be given the first shot at job positions created by this move,” said Col. Steve Arthur, 926th FW commander. “I feel confident that anyone who wants a job will have opportunities.” 

The 926th is just one unit of many military units that will be affected by BRAC. In AFRC alone, BRAC will affect more than half the command in the next five years. (AFRC News Service)