The Air Force will consider eight candidate locations — Eglin AFB, Fla.; Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Joint Base San Antonio, Texas; Keesler AFB, Miss.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; Patrick AFB, Fla.; Shaw AFB, S.C.; and Vandenberg AFB, Calif. — to potentially consolidate battlefield airman training, officials announced Thursday.
The initiative to consider consolidating battlefield airman training follows an Air Force review that determined grouping training at fewer locations could lead to improvements and synergies in the current training processes, according to a news release.
The service plans to select preferred and reasonable alternatives in early 2017. Battlefield airman training currently is conducted at eight primary training locations across seven states. Battlefield airmen make up the Air Force’s ground component and include combat controllers, pararescuemen, special operations weathermen and tactical air control party airmen. These personnel often embed with conventional and special operations forces.
In recent months, officials have gathered information from all Air Force installations in the continental United States and assessed each location with regard to mission requirements, capacity, environmental considerations and cost to determine the service’s options for consolidating battlefield airman training.
The Air Force will now conduct detailed site surveys of the candidate bases covering a broad range of operational and infrastructure requirements. Based on the results of the surveys, Air Force leadership will select the preferred and reasonable alternatives. Before making a final basing decision, the service will evaluate the environmental impacts at each location.
“As we progress through the basing process, we will share information so interested communities are aware of what to expect,” said Jennifer Miller, deputy assistant secretary for installations.