Military Bases

Transfer of the 458th Operations Group to McGuire Air Force Base Gao ID: NSIAD-98-207BR July 28, 1998

This report provides information on the transfer of the 458th Operations Group from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. Specifically, GAO discusses the (1) factors that prompted the transfer of this unit and decisions of the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission that affected Barksdale Air Force Base; (2) estimated costs, savings, and operational benefits of the Commission's decisions affecting Barksdale; and (3) general indicators of economic conditions in the Barksdale (Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana) 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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