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Mountain Home Air Force Base Stands Down Units Due To Budget Cuts
MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho ( KMVT-TV / KTWT-TV ) – The 366th Fighter Wing will stand down the 391st Fighter Squadron as part of the United States Air Force’s decision to curtail flying operations for active duty combat units.
The stand down is the result of cuts to Air Combat Command’s operations and maintenance account, ensuring units supporting worldwide operations can maintain sufficient readiness through the remainder of the fiscal year.
Tuesday's stand down implemented measures to fly approximately 45,000 fewer training hours between now and Oct. 1.
"Acting under the direction of ACC, the 391st Bold Tigers have stopped flying operations effective April 9th. The full impact of the effects at Mountain Home Air Force Base are yet to be realized based on factors that are out of our direct control and budget decisions being made at the highest level of leadership," said Col. Chris Short, 366th Fighter Wing commander. "We’ll use the resources we have available to prepare Airmen and units preparing to deploy to support Overseas Contingency Operations and take care of our Gunfighter family."
ACC, as the Air Force’s lead for Combat Air Forces, manages the flying-hour programs for four major commands. This decision to stand down or curtail operations affects about one-third of the active-duty CAF aircraft – including those assigned here.
"We must implement a tiered readiness concept where only the units preparing to deploy in support of major operations like Afghanistan are fully mission capable," said Gen. Mike Hostage, ACC commander. "Units will stand down on a rotating basis so our limited resources can be focused on fulfilling critical missions."
The stand down will remain in effect for the remainder of fiscal year 2013 barring any changes to current levels of funding. "We’re entering uncharted territory in terms of how we’ve had to take this year’s cuts and make adjustments to mitigate the most serious impacts," Hostage said. "Remaining as mission-ready as possible for a combatant commander is our priority, and we’re prioritizing spending to ensure this imperative is met."
Units that are stood down will shift their emphasis to ground training. They will use flight simulators to the extent possible within existing contracts, and conduct academic training to maintain basic skills and knowledge of their aircraft. As funding allows, aircrews will also complete formal ground training courses, conduct non-flying exercises and improve local flying-related programs and guidance.
Maintainers will complete upgrade training and clear up backlogs of scheduled inspections and perform maintenance as possible given budget impacts in other areas, such as stock of spare parts.
F-15E Strike Eagle aircrews, on average lose currency to fly combat missions within 90 to 120 days of not flying. It generally takes approximately 90 days to conduct the training needed to return aircrews to mission ready status, and the time and cost associated with that retraining increase the longer crews stay on the ground.
"This will have a significant and multi-year impact on our operational readiness," Hostage said. "But right now, there is no other acceptable way to implement these cuts."