JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Joint Base Charleston's 17th Airlift Squadron, one of Charleston's four active-duty C-17 Globemaster III flying squadrons, will inactivate in 2015 as part of President Obama's defense budget, a spokesman for the base says.
The squadron's eight eight C-17 cargo jets at Joint Base Charleston will be placed on backup status, meaning none will be assigned crews or flying hours in a cost-saving measure, according to Staff Sgt. Anthony Hyatt of Joint Base Charleston.
"The 17th Airlift Squadron has an outstanding record of performance over many years," 17th Airlift Squadron commander Lt. Col. Paul Theriot said. "We received the news of the inactivation with heavy hearts as we have all come to identify ourselves with our beloved mascot, the Moose, and the rich heritage of the 17th. However, it isn't the number '17' that gets the mission done, it's the people. When the closure happens, we will continue accomplishing that awesome mission, just wearing different patches."
Despite the lack of flying hours, the wing will continue to receive the funding needed to sustain weapon system support, Hyatt said.
"The Air Force plans to make adjustments over the next few years to the active duty, Reserve, and Guard components to ensure successful transitions to a leaner force that remains ready for future operations," Hyatt said in a statement.
"We understand the difficult choices our leaders have had to make in this fiscal environment and we support those choices," said Col. John Lamontagne, 437th Airlift Wing commander.
The 10th Airlift Squadron, based out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, is also being inactivated.
Not staffing or flying the combined 16 aircrafts will create an estimated savings of $110 million per year.
"In this fiscally constrained environment, we have to balance readiness, capability and capacity," said Major Gen. Michael S. Stough, AMC's Director of Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs.
Stough says the the intent is to eventually return the aircrafts to service and transfer them to the Air National Guard, perhaps as early as fiscal year 2016.