Squadron retains services during AF restructure

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- The wing and 52nd Force Support Squadron leadership here are making decisions to keep services open and available to the community as the Air Force continues to operate in the current fiscally-constrained environment.

Some of the decisions include restructuring manpower resources within FSS and changing operation hours for some services.

For example, the auto hobby shop's self-service section stall rentals are now only available Friday noon to 8 p.m. and Saturday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"We're going to keep as many services open as we can without breaking the law," said Tony Chatfield, 52nd Force Support Squadron Community Services Flight chief. "And the only way to do that was to adjust current programs."

To comply with Resource Management Decision 703, a plan developed by Congress and the Air Force to determine manpower savings, certain appropriated funding positions were abolished. The employee loss did not affect Spangdahlem AB alone; it impacted services and programs throughout the entire Air Force.

"Many bases will actually close the doors to the auto hobby shops," said Maj. Cat Logan, 52nd FSS commander. "Fortunately for us at Spangdahlem, we can generate enough funds through our mechanical services to pay to keep the self-help program operating on a limited scale."

Program cuts were based on interest, use and demand analyzed from data collected on cultural surveys from Airmen throughout the Air Force. The surveys revealed that "Arts and Crafts" programs were not being utilized as a whole, thus they were one of the first to be cut as a core program.

"If we didn't make changes and reduce some service hours, the programs may have had to close altogether," Chatfield said. "We're doing our best to take care of our Spangdahlem Airmen and families and meet the needs of the Air Force to control fiscal spending."

As the Air Force transitions into an even leaner force, some programs once paid for through tax-payer dollars will close to align with the budget cuts embraced by the Defense Department.

"As this occurs, we can assure you, the leadership in the 52nd FSS and wing are working to keep viable programs in place to take care of the men and women assigned here," Logan said. "As you may well know, being stationed overseas presents many challenges that do not occur in the states, and programs not used there may be critical here.

"We can assure you that we will work to continue to find ways maximizing hours for the self-help customers," she said about the auto hobby shop specifically.

Chatfield said the squadron may one day change other services' availability to comply with Air Force initiatives while still benefiting the Spangdahlem and Bitburg communities.

"We're not done yet," he said. "We're looking to the future to see what we can offer. It's not just about losing positions; it's about restructuring what we do and how we do it to help the Air Force move forward in our current fiscal environment."