JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. , –
The 17th Airlift Squadron, one of Charleston's four active-duty C-17 Globemaster III flying squadrons, will inactivate in 2015 as part of the President's Defense Budget for FY15.
The 10th Airlift Squadron, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was also selected for inactivation in 2016.
The Air Force plans to make adjustments over the next few years to the active duty, Reserve, and Guard components to ensure successful transitions to a leaner force that remains ready for future operations. The FY15 President's Budget converts 16 Air Mobility Command C-17s (eight from each base) from primary mission aircraft inventory to backup aircraft inventory, resulting in the inactivation of both airlift squadrons. These inactivations are not new actions, but additional detail on the previously announced budget submission released in March.
Backup aircraft inventory are assigned with no manpower or flying hours. However, the wing will continue to receive funding needed to support weapon system sustainment. Converting 16 aircraft to BAI removes funding for the personnel and flying hours associated with those aircraft, for a savings of approximately $110 million per year.
"In this fiscally constrained environment, we have to balance readiness, capability and capacity," said Major Gen. Michael S. Stough, AMC's Director of Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs. "To best preserve this capability, the intent is to fund these aircraft back into primary mission aircraft inventory in future years, and transfer them to the Reserve Component - and we're working with our Air National Guard partners to do that, perhaps even as early as FY16. We rely on our Total Force partners every day to meet our global mobility requirements; we couldn't do the mission without them. Our goal is to continue to leverage the unique strengths and characteristics of the active and Reserve components to meet current and future requirements with available resources."
Here in Charleston, Air Force leaders reflected on the challenges of maintaining a superior military force in the present fiscal climate.
"We understand the difficult choices our leaders have had to make in this fiscal environment and we support those choices," said Col. John Lamontagne, 437th Airlift Wing commander.
Lt. Col. Paul Theriot, 17th AS commander, discussed the impact on his squadron.
"The 17th Airlift Squadron has an outstanding record of performance over many years," he said. "We received the news of the inactivation with heavy hearts as we have all come to identify ourselves with our beloved mascot, the Moose, and the rich heritage of the 17th. However, it isn't the number '17' that gets the mission done, it's the people. When the closure happens, we will continue accomplishing that awesome mission, just wearing different patches."
Theriot underscored his squadron's determination to finish strong.
"The next year will be very busy for us as we continue flying missions around the world, and we certainly will not be pulling the throttles back," he said. "On the contrary, we will continue to build on our legacy and finish on an extremely high note."
Lamontagne took the announcement of the 17 AS's upcoming inactivation as a moment to reflect on the history and future of the C-17 and those who operate it.
"The C-17 entered the airlift world in the 17th Airlift Squadron on July 14, 1993," he said. "Although the C-17 will continue to fly for many years beyond the squadron's inactivation next summer, we will preserve the squadron's rich tradition for a long, long time. More importantly, we will continue to take care of our finest American Airman and their families, as they transition from one squadron to another."