More planes mean more jobs at air base

Charleston Post and Courier
Terry Joyce, Staff Writer
March 1, 2002

Charleston Air Force Base will gain 382 military and civilian jobs during the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, largely because of a boost in the number of its C-17 jet transports.

The new personnel will include 289 military, 12 civilians and 81 reservists, base spokesman Lt. Col. Ed Memi said Friday. The number of planes assigned to Charleston will grow from 40 to 54 by September 2003.

“The next group of planes will be a new version, with additional fuel tanks and a tail section made of composite materials,” Memi said. More planes mean more people.

Perhaps the most noticeable change at the base will be the reactivation of the 16th Airlift Squadron, the unit that was deactivated in 2000 when the last of the base’s C-141 transports was retired.

The squadron will be reactivated in July and eventually will have 138 people, mostly pilots and loadmasters. Their jobs will be the same as those of the base’s three other active-duty flying squadrons – the airlift of people, equipment and supplies worldwide.

Memi said precise economic figures related to the increase in jobs weren’t available, but he mentioned the base’s annual economic impact report published earlier this year. In that report, the base estimated that each active-duty military job creates 0.41 indirect jobs in the Lowcountry.

Also, each civil servant working on base creates 0.55 civilian jobs, while each reservist creates .016 jobs, according to the report. Using those formulas, the Lowcountry eventually could expect to see 138 additional off-base jobs. The average annual salary for those jobs in 2001, according to the report, was $28,586.

As of last Sept. 30, the base had 3,156 active-duty Air Force personnel, down from about 4,400 a few years ago. However, some military people will be arriving this summer even before the new fiscal year begins. The base expects the new C-17s to begin arriving in June, Memi said.

Friday’s announcement was part of a much larger force structure realignment released to Congress earlier this month. The base’s biggest gainer is the 437th Aircraft Generation Squadron, a maintenance unit, which will see a boost of 171 military positions. The Air Force Reserve’s 315th Airlift Wing will gain the 12 civilians and 81 reservists.

Both the 315th and the host unit 437th Airlift Wing fly the base’s C-17s. According to figures released Friday from the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., the Air Force flew more than 2,900 airlift missions for the war in Afghanistan as of March 4. C-17s accounted for 47 percent of those missions, which moved nearly 46,000 passengers and about 90,000 tons of cargo.

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