News / USA

    US Air Force Facing Cuts in Manpower, Flying Hours

    US Air Force Facing Cuts in Manpower,Flying Hoursi
    X
    March 22, 2013 1:43 AM
    The U.S. military is getting ready for the impact of big automatic budget cuts, in what’s termed "sequestration." The Defense Department faces bigger cuts than any other agency. For the 459th Air Refueling Reserve Wing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, that means pay cuts and reductions in flying hours, right before a scheduled deployment. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti introduces us to the flying men and women this would affect.
    US Air Force Facing Cuts in Manpower,Flying Hours
    The U.S. military is getting ready for the impact of big automatic budget cuts, in what’s termed "sequestration."  The Defense Department faces bigger cuts than any other agency. For the 459th Air Refueling Reserve Wing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, that means pay cuts and reductions in flying hours, right before a scheduled deployment.

    Captain Frank Gilliard flies an air refueling tanker - a KC-135.  “The 135 can also be set up as a hospital,” he said.

    He and all other Air Force pilots are facing an 18 percent cut in flying hours.  That means less time in the air to refuel other planes out on missions. “Yes, readiness definitely could be affected,” Gilliard said.

    All reserve civilians will be furloughed one day a week if the budget cuts go into effect. “It’s going to be tough. It's going to be tough,” Gilliard said.

    That’s a 20 percent pay cut.  

    "Whew.  It can cut into a lot of things, just like I have my home, I have my basic utilities, day to day living,” Gilliard said.

    Senior Airman Kevin Weedn maintains the KC-135 and also serves as a trainer.  He already downgraded his cellphone plan, sold his second car and is rethinking his upcoming wedding.

    “Our plans to pay for our own wedding is hard.  I am putting aside money we have now.  I am able to do it, but it’s just going to be a little tight,” Weedn said.

    Weedn and Gilliard are among the 230 civilian reservists with the KC-135s who face cuts at Andrews Air Force Base.

    Their primary mission is twofold -- to refuel other planes in flight and to train pilots how to connect and refuel.  But their plane is aging -- the KC-135s here were built in the late 1950s.

    The plane still carries some relics of the past-- like this sextant port.  The navigator would pop open the valve to gaze at the stars and plot his course.

    A Boeing contract would replace these planes with newer models … but the military is waiting for Congress to approve that funding, too.      

    Colonel William Mason is the wing commander.
     
    But his status does not protect his pay either -- Col. Mason is withdrawing a savings account to pay for his daughter's college education.  He says the sequestration may actually cost the Air Force more.

    "It costs more to let somebody not fly and try to get them retrained than to continue flying them throughout the month and maintain that readiness," Mason said.  

    Colonel Mason says if the cuts go through....it could take his wing up to a year to recover.

    None of these cuts has been made here yet.  But if lawmakers take no action to stop them…much of the needed funding will simply disappear.

    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora