Air Force IT plans for New England

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Air Force has started planning for the possibility that more than 1,200 service information technology jobs will move to Boston from Dayton, Ohio, and Montgomery, Ala.

"We are taking steps now to prepare for this," said Frank Weber, director of the Air Force’s Operations Support Systems Wing. He spoke May 24 at the Montgomery IT Summit conference sponsored by the Montgomery chapter of the AFCEA International.

The new wing oversees procurement of the Air Force's business and combat support IT systems at the service’s Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. The wing consists of four new organizations: the Force Protection Systems Squadron at Hanscom; the Development and Fielding Systems Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, previously the Material Systems Group; the Operations and Sustainment Systems Group at Gunter Annex, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.; and the Engineering and Integration Systems Squadron, also at Gunter Annex. The last two used to make up the Headquarters Standard Systems Group.

Earlier this month, the Defense Department's Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended moving the three latter Air Force IT organizations to Hanscom. DOD and service officials believe this will create a more efficient and effective Operations Support Systems Wing.

The rationale is sound: Integrate the command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) enterprise, Weber said.

Rob Thomas, deputy director of the new Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer, said he also supports the commission's decision. "We had a fragmentation of C4ISR for years," he said speaking at the conference yesterday.

Weber said the Operations Support Systems Wing had no advanced notice of the commission's decision. He said, though, that the wing was working on a study to improve its effectiveness.

"It's going to be a challenge," Weber said. "We're going to lose a lot of people."

Weber said he does not have answers right now to questions from employees affected by the decision including what it means, what entitlements are available and when it will happen. He said he will have some answers in the next 30 days.

"Before you make a life-changing decision, let us get you the information you need," Weber said.

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