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U.S. Air Force's European consolidation results announced

U.S. Air Forces in Europe shield.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe shield.

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- The Office of the Secretary of Defense announced the results of the European Infrastructure Consolidation review Jan. 8, which will realign several missions in U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa within seven years.

Under the EIC, the Department of Defense will divest three installations in the United Kingdom, including realigning missions from RAF Mildehnall to other installations in Europe, and consolidating intelligence centers at RAF Croughton.

As required by the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act, the DoD also used the EIC process to validate Lajes Field, Azores, Portugal, streamline efforts, previously approved and announced in 2012.  The DoD has concluded the Lajes streamlining process should continue and is expected to complete by the fall of 2015.  The Air Force will adjust the size of the unit to reflect the level of support required while keeping forces at the installation.

"We understand these changes will have substantial impacts on the local areas, but we are dedicated to working closely with our community neighbors, defense partners, personnel and families to ease the impact of these transitions as much as possible," said Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. "These infrastructure consolidations will allow USAFE-AFAFRICA to better meet alliance mission requirements."

The divestment of RAF Mildenhall will result in the move of currently assigned missions to other installations within the command. Upon completion of the realignment process, which is anticipated to occur after 2020, the Air Force is estimated to save $125 million annually, primarily in infrastructure maintenance costs and facility upgrades.

While there will be no difference in operational capabilities, the divestment is also projected to reduce approximately 1,300 military, civilian and local national positions.

In addition, roughly 2,600 personnel are projected to be relocated to other locations in the United Kingdom as well as to Ramstein and Spangdahlem air bases in Germany.

"The U.K. remains an essential location for forward-based and ready forces," said Gorenc. "Our close relationship with the U.K. government and integrated missions with U.K. forces remain integral to USAFE's ability to execute successful missions in support of our NATO Allies."

Additionally in the U.K., intelligence and support elements located at RAF Alconbury and RAF Molesworth will consolidate. This will be an investment into a new intelligence complex at RAF Croughton to create efficiencies in operational mission support. This consolidation will result in the divestiture of RAF Molesworth and RAF Alconbury in 2022 and the inactivation of the 501st Combat Support Wing.

It will also result in the projected reduction of approximately 200 military, civilian and local national positions from Alconbury-Molesworth and the relocation of 1,200 personnel to RAF Croughton.

"The RAF Croughton site ensures continuation of the strong U.S. intelligence relationship with the United Kingdom and will result in an exponential increase in U.S.-NATO intelligence collaboration efforts," said Gorenc.

Not only will the consolidation of missions at RAF Croughton result in greater efficiencies and operational synergy, it will also allow the U.S. government to meet mission requirements in the most financially responsible way.

"The consolidation at RAF Croughton will realize savings of approximately $74 million each year, with a return on investment of approximately four years," Gorenc said.

In addition to the changes within the U.K., the 606th Air Control Squadron at Spangdahlem AB, will be relocated to Aviano AB, Italy. The move of the squadron and its approximate 300 positions is expected to save the Air Force approximately $50 million in military construction funding.

Following the relocation of the 606th ACS, Spandgdahlem AB will receive the 352nd Special Operations Group, currently located at RAF Mildenhall. This move will include about 10 CV-22s and 10 MC-130J aircraft, and associated personnel.

An exact timeline for EIC movements is still being considered, though some relocation efforts are expected to start within a year. Larger efforts, which include consolidation and divestments, will take place after facilities are ready to receive the mission relocations. Divestments are expected to be complete within seven years.

"We took a serious and pragmatic look at how we can most effectively meet our commitments," said Gorenc. "These changes increase our ability to meet the needs of a new dynamic security environment in Europe. Our vow to NATO's Article 5 remains unbreakable and unwavering."