Alpena CRTC Faces Man-Power Reductions

  • Published
  • By Patricia Luna
As lawmakers and politicians continue to debate over the current economic condition and sequestration situation, it is easy to forget how the implications of these programs can affect us close to home.

The Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center (CRTC) has been an integral part of the Alpena community for over eighty years. Through that time, there have been changes, hurdles and great accomplishments that have helped to solidify the importance of having a military presence in Northern Michigan. More importantly, the significant role the Alpena CRTC plays in training military units from across the nation is immeasurable.

With the recent signing of the National Defense Authorization Act, the Alpena CRTC is once again looking in the face of adversity. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a United States federal law that specifies the budget and expenditures of the United States Department of Defense. The authorization bill determines the agencies responsible for defense, establishes funding levels and sets the policies under which money will be spent.

For some background, in March 2012, the Alpena CRTC was notified that it may lose 25 full-time positions as a result of force structure decisions for Fiscal Year 2013. Specifically, 25 enlisted full-time positions were identified for potential removal. As the process progressed through the summer of 2012, the force structure changes and reductions were put on hold.
On January 2, 2013, President Obama signed the FY13 NDAA into law. The signing of the NDAA triggered the force structure changes to become active once again. In essence, the Air Force will proceed with manpower changes and force structure modifications approved in prior year budgets as well as those included in the FY13 NDAA. Currently, the Alpena CRTC is expected to lose 25 full-time enlisted positions. The planned force structure reduction has larger implications on the entire CRTC enterprise as a whole. The enterprise consists of three other CRTC's located in Volk Field, Wisconsin; Gulfport, Mississippi; and Savannah, Georgia. With respect to the CRTC enterprise, 95 total enlisted full-time positions are planned to be eliminated and replaced with part-time positions, known as drill-status guardsmen.

By design, the CRTC enterprise is extremely efficient. In fact, prior to the 2013 NDAA actions, the CRTC enterprise was only funded at 76% of the full-time manpower standard. Up until this year, the CRTC's utilized individual work days to make up for reduced manpower. Due to budget uncertainty, the CRTC's now face a 70% reduction in work days. This workday reduction is in conjunction with the loss of 25 full-time positions.

"The timeline is still not final, but we anticipate that these positions will be removed on 1 October 2013," Colonel Bryan Teff, commander of the Alpena CRTC indicated. The loss of 25 enlisted full-time positions at the Alpena CRTC is a 27% reduction in overall full-time manning and a 31% reduction in enlisted personnel full-time manning. The effect of these reductions is that the Alpena CRTC will only be manned at approximately 50% of the authorized manpower standard.

Another significant challenge to the Alpena CRTC is the potential for sequestration. If Congress fails to de-trigger sequestration, a massive half-trillion dollar cut goes into effect on March 1st. Units that are not deploying to Afghanistan would face some very serious cutbacks. Sequestration is alarming due to both the magnitude and the mechanism, because the law calls for across-the-board cuts. Sequestration savings will come from equipment & modernization, maintenance, and training.

"Despite these very severe budget pressures, we need to maintain a ready force. Over the last month or so the CRTC has been engaged in intensive planning efforts to ensure that we are prepared to accomplish our core mission. Change brings opportunity. These challenges will be difficult but they may also provide opportunity for us in the future," stated Col Teff.

Amid these obstacles, the Alpena CRTC will remain focused on its mission to provide premier support, facilities, instruction and airspace to Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Coalition and emergency responders to meet the mission requirements of Combatant Commanders and Civil Authorities.