MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The West Virginia Air National Guard continues to work on a plan in response to possible job cuts at the Martinsburg Air Base.
Currently the West Virginia Air Guard maintains C-5 aircrafts for the U.S. Air Force, but in a couple years that will change to the C-17 aircraft. The switch will constitute to around 217 positions being lost.
West Virginia National Guard Brigadier General David Buckalew said the C-17 requires fewer personnel to maintain it than the C-5 does.
“With the C-5 you pull the part, you repair it and you replace,” said Buckalew. “With the C-17 it’s remove and replace. Components come out and another replacement goes in.”
With the C-17 components, the repairs are all handled by the Air Force depot supply system rather than members of the Air Guard.
But the Air Guard has known about the switch for a couple of years now and Buckalew said they have been preparing for it and have the number of lost positions below 200.
“We’ve mitigated that down through attrition and honestly just getting by without filling all the jobs,” he said. “We’ve got that down to, the last number I had was 81 and we’ve still got time.”
In addition to what they have already done through attrition, Buckalew said they are also working on another strategy that would allow them to keep all the jobs.
“Is remission the 200 slots into a cyber mission and we would like to have there at Martinsburg, with its proximity to the national capital region, it’s a prime location for that capability,” said Buckalew.
That plan is kind of currently on hold, however, because there is some disagreement on whether the West Virginia Air National Guard was notified properly about the coming switch. Negotiations are ongoing on that discrepancy.
Buckalew said they plan to place as many of the personnel impacted by the switch as they can in other positions within the Air Guard that become available.
The conversion isn’t scheduled to take place until Fiscal Year 2015.