Governor Herbert, Utah Congressional Delegation React to Announcement on Hill Air Force Base

In Letter to Air Force Today, Members Write that the Proposal is “Most Disappointing and Irresponsible”

November 2, 2011

WASHINGTON – Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Utah’s entire congressional delegation, including Utah Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, and Congressmen Rob Bishop, Jim Matheson and Jason Chaffetz, today expressed deep concerns with the Air Force’s decision to eliminate jobs at Hill Air Force Base.  The Governor and Utah’s delegation sent a letter today to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley detailing their disappointment with the decision. Currently, there are approximately 24,000 employees that work at Hill Air Force Base in various roles.

In the letter, the elected officials write that, the Air Force’s decisions jeopardizes “the future modernization of Hill AFB facilities and infrastructure.” They also note that “the Air Force either can’t, or won’t, provide us with the needed answers as the analytical process seems to have been circumvented.”

HERBERT : "Utah's Hill Air Force Base is unquestionably a critical component of our nation's modern defense system. This state is deeply disappointed with today's announcement, particularly given the lack of public process and absence of local input. With so much other waste in Washington, this hasty decision appears to be short-sighted and even counter-productive, jeopardizing the modernization of the country's defense. While some are saying this is a done deal, this is not over--we will exhaust every option to keep Hill as one of nation's premier defense installations and preserve valuable jobs for Utahns."

HATCH : “The Air Force’s decision ignores the basic fact that the men and women at Hill Air Force Base are among the hardest-working and most efficient workers in our armed forces. It’s simply the wrong decision as anyone who’s visited Hill well knows. I firmly believe that the command at Hill and the Ogden Air Logistics Center would be able to work with the Air Force to meet the service’s – and Utahns’ – goal of saving taxpayer dollars and maintaining the strongest military in the world. I’m going to continue to press the Air Force on maintaining the current logistics center infrastructure and do everything I can to ensure the 24,000 jobs at Hill remain in northern Utah.”

LEE: “The planned reorganization of the Air Force Materiel Command, which will significantly affect Hill Air Force Base, should be shelved immediately. The announcement came with very little coordination or communication with Utah’s representatives and many important questions remain. The Air Force has pursued this plan with an unsettling amount of secrecy and during the process failed to provide adequate details regarding personnel reductions and possible relocation sites, despite assurances that those would be made in a fair and open manner. It has failed to perform a business-case analysis, which is necessary to determine whether the reorganization will even accomplish its stated goal. I repeatedly and specifically asked the Air Force to postpone its announcement until these issues had been resolved, but it was unwilling to change its plans. As a result, I plan to fight this plan on all fronts.”

BISHOP: “In light of the fact that many questions remain unanswered and no Business Case Analysis has been conducted, I remain deeply concerned that the Air Force has chosen to proceed with the announcement of this proposal.  A BCA is an essential step that must be taken to determine whether these decisions will be beneficial or detrimental to Utah and air logistics capabilities as a whole.  This necessary analysis would provide evidence as to whether or not this would actually benefit taxpayers or end up costing more in the long run as many suspect.  The Air Force has remained elusive about the details of this plan, including their refusal to conduct a BCA.  They have been less than forthcoming about what personnel reductions may occur and where, as well as the overall impact this will have on jobs, Utah, Hill AFB and efficiency amongst all Air Logistics Centers. Subsequently, I have requested on several occasions, in writing and in person, that Air Force Secretary Michael Donley immediately halt the implementation of this plan. I want to do what is best for the Air Force and for the nation but so far the Air Force has yet to prove that this proposal is in the best
interest of the country.”

MATHESON: “There is a process in place for how these workforce decisions are made. I have concerns that in this case, the Department of Defense’s own rules and regulations were not followed. That raises questions about how appropriate the job reductions are, given the importance of Hill’s mission and the excellence and efficiency shown by Hill’s employees in our national defense.”

Hill Air Force Base is composed of two major components:  the Fighter Wings and Ogden Air Logistics Center.  Under the Air Force’s plan, Ogden’s commander will no longer be a Major General but a Brigadier General.  Ogden’s name will also be changed from an Air Logistics Center to an Air Logistics Complex.   

The Governor and the delegation are concerned that the Air Force’s plan could disrupt the integrated management of Ogden’s life-cycle managers, who plan and engineer modifications to aircraft, and depot maintainers, who are responsible for performing the actual work on the aircraft.

According to the Air Force, Ogden will not lose any of its current functions and missions, and the F-22 program managers previously scheduled to move to Ogden are in fact coming.  In addition, the Secretary of the Air Force has said that Hill Air Force Base is on track to receive the first three operational squadrons of F-35s.  

The text of the letter Governor Herbert and Utah’s congressional delegation sent to Sen. Donley is below, and can also be viewed HERE :


November 2, 2011

The Honorable Michael Donley
Secretary - United States Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1670

Dear Mr. Secretary:

As a united delegation of Utah elected officials, we are writing to express dismay following your meeting yesterday afternoon with selected Congressional leaders regarding your anticipated announcement which will outline a major reorganization of the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC), significant downgrading of the Air Logistics Centers (ALCs), and the establishment of new centralized bureaucracies in Ohio and
Oklahoma.  As things stand, we cannot support your proposal due to the lack of analysis which prohibits us from judging the efficacy of the proposed changes and the impacts on sustainment.    Sadly, the Air Force either can’t, or won’t, provide us with the needed answers as the analytical process seems to have been circumvented.

For months, our delegation’s attempts at dialogue and partnership have largely been rebuffed by you, and other Air Force leaders, even as AFMC’s reorganization plans were being drafted in haste and behind the cloak of non-disclosure agreements.   It is regrettable that you would proceed to move forward to approve and implement such a major reorganization in this effusive manner while ignoring Air Force regulations (AF165-509) which require that a formal Business Case Analysis (BCA) to be conducted on any proposed action which would result in a $500 million or greater impact across the five-year defense plan (FYDP).   Lt. General Janet Wolfenbarger admitted, in writing, that no BCA had been completed, even though the $500 million threshold is reached.  Therefore, your action appears to be in violation of Air Force and Department of Defense (DoD) regulations.  Even without a regulatory mandate, principles of responsible government would dictate that a BCA be conducted to demonstrate to taxpayers that such a major reorganization creating two new three-star bureaucracies makes fiscal sense.  

The secretive and subjective process used by you and the Air Force to determine the locations for the two new 3-star bureaucracies inherent in your plan is highly suspect, and offends the very notions of fairness and open government.  To have determined these locations in secret violates the precedents used previously by the Air Force in making basing decisions.  

While we continue to have various other unanswered questions regarding your plan’s impact on sustainment for the war fighter, due mainly to the lack of specifics from you, one of our most significant concerns is that the plan could severely undercut the long-term viability of the Falcon Hill Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) project at Hill Air Force Base.  As you well know, the taxpayers of Utah have invested over $20 million in state funds into the Falcon Hill EUL partnership.  That investment now stands at risk through what appears to be an impetuous Air Force reorganization scheme that could reduce demand for Falcon Hill, thereby jeopardizing the future modernization of Hill AFB facilities and infrastructure.  To announce your plan, and not to have considered these potential negative impacts on Falcon Hill and Hill AFB modernization, is most disappointing and irresponsible.  

Once again, we strongly urge you to defer the AFMC reorganization implementation until greater dialogue and disclosure is achieved with stakeholders, and a formal BCA is completed in compliance with Air Force and DoD regulations, including a detailed review of how the Falcon Hill EUL and Hill AFB future modernization could be negatively impacted.