Cannon losing civilian jobs

The Associated Press

Cannon Air Force Base is slated to lose 49 positions and Holloman Air Force Base will lose 57 jobs after the U.S. Air Force announced it would cut around 9,000 civilian positions nationwide.

Col. Buck Elton, 27th Special Operations Wing commander, said 18 of the 49 eliminated positions at Cannon are vacant.

“The civilian workforce is an integral part of our Air Force’s capabilities, and we cannot do our nation’s most important business without you,” Col. Elton said in an address to around 300 civilian employees.

Col. David Krumm, 49th Wing commander, said Thursday that Holloman, located outside of Alamogordo, is looking at “placement alternatives” and is working to reassign workers. “We are engaging as a wing to take every opportunity to reassign these positions at Holloman,” he said.

Air Force officials said they will seek “all voluntary separation options” at all bases before turning to layoffs.

Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque also is scheduled to lose 82 positions during the last round of cuts. Tom Berardinelli, director of staff of the 377th Air Base Wing, said some of Kirtland’s cuts will come from open positions currently not filled and others will have to come from early retirements, buyouts and possibly layoffs.

The announcement comes as the Air Force seeks to control costs and restructure its civilian force. Officials say some Air Force management and overhead functions needed streamlining.

Under the restructuring, Air Force Materiel Command’s nuclear support mission will continue to be led by the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center at Kirtland. In recent years, Kirtland has been contracting out blue collar and clerical jobs and added more professional positions that required advance degrees reflecting the base’s focus on high tech operations.

Budget tightening began after a Secretary of Defense’s 2010 memo directed that civilian manpower costs stay within fiscal year 2010 levels. The Air Force then started a comprehensive review of its entire civilian workforce.

In May, the military branch instituted a hiring freeze and offered buyouts and early retirement designed to reduce overall costs.

Despite the latest round of cuts announced this week, the Air Force also said it is planning to add around 5,900 positions in acquisition, the nuclear enterprise, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance starting next year.

Kirtland Air Force Base spokeswoman Marie Vanover said Kirtland is scheduled to gain 132 of those jobs, but budgets will need to get approved.

“Finally, it is important to emphasize that regardless of whether Kirtland AFB were to have a net gain or loss, the fact remains that 55 of the 82 positions abolished have people in them that could be impacted by this restructuring,” Vanover said in a statement.

It’s unclear how planned additions would affect Holloman and Cannon.