Military Bases:

Transfer of the 458th Operations Group to McGuire Air Force Base

NSIAD-98-207BR: Published: Jul 28, 1998. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 1998.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the transfer of the 458th Operations Group from Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), Louisiana, to McGuire AFB, New Jersey, focusing on: (1) factors that prompted the transfer of this unit and decisions of the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission that affected Barksdale AFB; (2) the estimated costs, savings, and operational benefits of the BRAC decisions affecting Barksdale; and (3) general indicators of economic conditions in the Barksdale area.

GAO noted that: (1) movement of the 458th Operations Group and its 19 KC-10s from Barksdale to McGuire was a result of restructuring by the Air Force in response to the end of the Cold War and decisions by the 1993 BRAC Commission; (2) at the end of the Cold War, the Air Force's mission changed to include contingency missions such as peacekeeping operations and the ability to respond simultaneously to two major regional conflicts; (3) to better support new requirements, the Air Force created two new commands: the Air Combat Command and the Air Mobility Command, assigning all B-52s to the Air Combat Command and all tanker and cargo aircraft, including KC-10s, to the Air Mobility Command; (4) to establish a global reach capability, the Air Force and Department of Defense recommended to the 1993 BRAC Commission that a mobility wing be established on the east coast at Plattsburgh AFB, New York, and on the west coast at Travis AFB, California; (5) however, the BRAC Commission recommended that Plattsburgh be closed and that the east coast mobility wing be located at McGuire; (6) to support the east coast mobility wing, the 458th Operations Group and its 19 KC-10 aircraft were reassigned from Barksdale to McGuire; (7) the Commission also recommended closing Castle AFB, California, and K.I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan, and recommended realigning Griffiss AFB, New York; (8) as a result of these recommendations, 21 B-52 aircraft and the B-52 school were relocated from these bases to Barksdale; (9) the BRAC Commission estimated its recommended closures and realignments would result in net annual recurring savings of $211 million once implementation costs to close and realign these bases were offset; (10) as of March 31, 1998, the Air Force had obligated $569 million for one-time implementation costs to close and realign these four bases; (11) in addition, Air Force officials stated that basing the KC-10s on the east coast has resulted in numerous operational benefits; (12) while the movement of the KC-10s from Barksdale caused concern about the economic impact on the community, indications are that Barksdale continues to provide economic benefits to the Shreveport-Bossier City area; (13) currently, Barksdale contributes approximately $447.7 million to the local community; and (14) in addition, from 1994 to 1996 total personal income increased 7.6 percent, per capita income increased 7.2 percent, and unemployment decreased by 1 percent.

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