If Congress and President Obama approve the proposed cuts to the Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2013, the effects may be felt locally at the Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts. According to 2nd Lieutenant Andre Bowser, a total of seventeen personnel – four reserve positions and thirteen civilian positions- could be cut from Westover for fiscal year 2013, which begins October 1st. Lieutenant Bowser says the cuts are part of a ten-year budget restructuring of the Pentagon as proposed by President Obama.
"The air force is refocusing and reducing the size of its forces, essentially to comply with the president's new defense strategy and the budget control act requirements to cut $487 billion from the defense budget over the next ten years."
Other proposed changes to the base include the transfer of eight C-5 planes away from Westover by 2016. The proposed transfer was announced in early February. Western Massachusetts residents may be familiar with the large transport planes which frequently fly out of Westover, and generate significant noise. Lieutenant Bowser says the transfer will be followed by an upgrade of the remaining C-5 fleet, from the current C-5B model to C-5M's.
"The C-5M model will have a more powerful engine that actually operates more efficiently and at a much lower noise level, so it's a win-win in that regard."
Lieutenant Bowser says the personnel cuts are not related to the transfer of C-5's. Westover is not the only base in Massachusetts that stands to lose personnel. Hanscom Air Force base in Bedford may cut 150 jobs, while Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod could lose up to 170 jobs.