Sequester cuts to hit Vienna reserve base

VIENNA – The Youngs-town Air Reserve Station, home of the 910th Airlift Wing, will reduce its number of aircraft from 12 to 10 C-130s at the same time that Congress-mandated furloughs were set to begin for civilian employees at the station.

The reduction in aircraft comes as a result of the Force Structure Announcement and 2013 National Defense Authorization Act given by the Department of Defense and Air Force. The two planes will be returned from being on loan in Little Rock, Ark.

With fewer planes, a cut in personnel will occur. About 50 civilian employees and up to 120 reservists may be affected.

The station employs about 400 civilians and nearly 2,000 military members. More of the civilian employees are awaiting the possibility of being furloughed as a result of Congress’ inability to compromise on steep cuts known as the sequester, according to Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr., superintendent of public affairs at YARS.

“It’s all part of the bigger picture. The furloughs are the immediate pain of the sequestration,” Barko said. ” The reduction-in-force is another cause of that.”

The furloughs were announced late February and after a 30-day notice period and were set to begin now. However, they have been pushed back to mid-June and will last until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

This means an unspecified number of civilian employees will be forced to take one day off unpaid per week. This will save the Department of Defense approximately $2.5 billion and, locally, about $2 million for YARS.

“Any reduction in resources affects an organizations ability to achieve its goals,” Barko said, “but the 910th Airlift Wing will continue to carry out its airlift and aerial spray missions with maximum effectiveness with the resources provided to us by the Air Force Reserve, Air Force and Department of Defense.”

One such example is the amount of flying hours that station has been able to maintain. While there has been an average of 18 percent reduction in flying hours across the Air Force, the 910th has been able to keep their reduction at only about nine percent. Barko attributes this to the reserve’s focus on “minimal disruptions to its special missions such as the DoD’s only aerial spray capability based at YARS.”

The Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport is considered a joint-use military and civilian airport, the two share runways and have a working agreement to share various services. For example the air station provides crash fire rescues through their fire department which are necessary for operation of the airport. The airport has two runways for public use and one assault strip used solely by the military.

“We’re nothing but supportive of them,” said Dan Dickten, Director of Aviation at the airport.

While Dickten said the furloughs will not directly impact the airport, he will be disappointed to see the cuts made.

“They are beyond a tenant of ours,” he said. “They are a huge part of our economy. We’d hate to see any losses, especially as far as aircraft.”