IT community braces for base realignment

Closure and realignment impacts by state

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — More than 1,250 Air Force uniformed and civilian employees with information technology jobs in Dayton, Ohio, and Montgomery, Ala., face having their jobs move to Boston under the Defense Department's base realignment program.

In plans disclosed earlier this month, members of DOD's Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended moving the jobs at three Air Force IT organizations to the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. The move would create a streamlined command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) organization.

Air Force officials speaking here last week said they supported the commission's decision to consolidate the three IT groups at the center. The center hosts the service's new Operations Support Systems Wing, which oversees procurement of the Air Force's business and combat support IT systems.

"We had a fragmentation of C4ISR for years," said Rob Thomas, deputy director of the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Chief of Warfighting Integration and Chief Information Officer.

Frank Weber, director of the wing, said the rationale for the realignment was sound.

Speaking at a conference sponsored by the Montgomery chapter of AFCEA International, Thomas and Weber also acknowledged the importance of the 1,250 jobs that would leave Montgomery's Gunter Annex if the Operations and Sustainment Systems Group and the Engineering and Integration Systems Squadron move to Boston.

Thomas said that a cottage industry has grown around IT to the benefit of Montgomery's economy and the state of Alabama. The state's loss could be offset, however, by the commission's decision to move the Army Materiel Command from Fort Belvoir, Va., to Redstone Arsenal, Ala., he said, which would add 3,000 military jobs.

But Montgomery officials are still concerned about job loss. "The workforce and contractor presence means a lot to the economics of the city," said Paul Hankins, a municipal consultant for the city and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.

The commission's decision could affect 3,200 Air Force and defense contractor IT jobs in Montgomery, Hankins said. The city got 2,000 new manufacturing jobs when Hyundai Motor Co. opened an automobile plant earlier this month. But Hankins said those jobs pay $30,000 to $40,000 a year, far less than the IT jobs that pay at least $60,000.

How local base realignment would look

A new Operations Support Systems Wing in the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., brings together four groups:

  • The Force Protection Systems Squadron, located at Hanscom.
  • The Development and Fielding Systems Group, formerly the Materiel Systems Group, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
  • The Operations and Sustainment Systems Group, located at the Gunter Annex of Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
  • The Engineering and Integration Systems Squadron, also located at Gunter Annex.
  • — Frank Tiboni

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