The restructuring announced last week by the Air Force could be a prelude to further moves that eliminate a valuable R&D mission at Eglin Air Force Base, say officials in Northwest Florida.
The proposed consolidation of Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) from 12 bases to 5 “lead centers” also places the installation’s 46th Test Wing under the command of an officer at Edwards AFB, Calif.
That change makes it more likely the service would shift Eglin’s research, development, testing and evaluation function to Edwards, David Goetsch, chairman of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council, told nwfdailynews.com.
In 2006, the commander of AFMC tried to relocate the base’s flight operations and armament testing to Edwards before local opposition forced the Air Force to drop the plan, Goetsch pointed out.
With a unit made up of the 46th Test Wing and Eglin’s 96th Air Base Wing reporting to the Edwards Test Center, Eglin’s R&D component will be at a greater distance from senior officials and become more vulnerable to further cutbacks, he argued.
“The further away from the flagpole you are in the military, the worse it is for you when cuts happen, and Eglin is going to be further away from the flagpole,” Goetsch said.