—Adam J. Hebert
March 24, 2008— US Air Forces in Europe must find a way to do more with less, at least in the short term, says new commander Gen. Roger A. Brady. Indeed the command is facing the challenge of standing up new organizations that perform Africa-related missions while simultaneously making final manpower cuts as part of the Air Force’s overall drawdown.
In an interview March 18 in the Pentagon, Brady said the command hopes to reactivate 17th Air Force by USAF’s anniversary this Sept. 18. The actual deadline to establish the air component for Africa is Oct. 1, when US Africa Command is expected to become fully operational.
The numbered air force command staff will be working with an air operations center dedicated to Africa-related missions and support of US Africa Command, Brady said. The exact location for these entities is in final coordination, but has not been announced as details are worked out with the host-nation.
Roughly 95 airmen will be needed to staff the 17th Air Force headquarters and another 190 to run the AOC, for a total of about 285 airmen dedicated to the enhanced Africa mission. About half the needed personnel will come directly from USAFE, with the rest brought in from across the Air Force, Brady said.
All of the airmen moving to the Africa-centered mission will be backfilled; USAFE’s command staff and existing NAF, 3rd Air Force, will not have the personnel carved out, Brady said. This is a good thing, because USAFE is just now starting to “see the impact” of its manpower reductions as airmen make permanent change of station moves out of Europe and are not replaced, he said. Aside from the nearly 300 airmen needed for 17th Air Force and the AOC, Brady does not anticipate any major force structure changes to USAFE.
The roughly 3,500 USAFE positions that are going away have all been identified and are often in secondary areas, such as ancillary training positions, he said.
Efficiency is important. Financial pressures mean the Air Force cannot simply “do things the way [they have] always been done,” he said. But achieving efficiency is not easy when the missions and demands are, if anything, increasing. In addition to AFRICOM, USAFE is a full participant in rotations to the combat zones in Southwest Asia; partners with a larger NATO alliance; and, like the rest of the flying Air Force, is dealing with an increasingly old and cantankerous fleet of aircraft.
“You don’t walk 32,000 people out the door,” Air Force-wide since 2006 and “not have an impact,” Brady said, alluding to decisions made in his previous position as the manpower and personnel director on the Air Staff. Brady took charge at USAFE in January when former commander Gen. William T. Hobbins retired.
“When you have a significant reduction of forces, you have to look at things differently,” Brady said. “And I think that’s going pretty well.”
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