The signs of MacDill Air Force Base’s transformation in the decade since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks are easy to spot, writes William R. Levesque.
It’s seen in the lines of cars backed up at the main gate as armed guards carefully check IDs. It’s seen in U.S. Central Command’s new headquarters and the overflowing parking lots across the base.
But at CentCom, the combatant command leading the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the days of exponential growth are done.
The command is now undertaking a comprehensive review of staffing levels at its MacDill headquarters as it deals with a Pentagon mandate to trim costs.
In a wide-ranging interview, CentCom’s chief of staff, Army Maj. Gen. Karl Horst, said CentCom expects to reduce its MacDill staff in the next three to four years by about 1,100 positions, down to 4,000 personnel overall.
The reductions, Horst said, are a consequence of the wars and Iraq and Afghanistan winding down and budget cuts across the military as Washington deals with a mounting deficit.
“There is no intention of degrading (CentCom’s) capability,” Horst said. “All we’re doing is looking at how to be as capable, more efficiently.”
He added, “I don’t think it’s unreasonable that we look hard at ourselves and say, ‘Are we doing the best we can with what we have? And … how can we do better?’ I think it absolutely logical and consistent with how all big businesses operate.”
These are not layoffs. Horst said the reduction mostly affects temporary staffers who will be reassigned elsewhere in the military.
It could not be confirmed Friday whether U.S. Special Operations Command, which is headquartered at MacDill and oversees the nation’s elite commando forces, would also trim its staff.
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