Thursday, January 08, 2015

RAF Mildenhall to Close - Basing Deck Being Reshuffled in Europe

STUTTGART, Germany — A major U.S. Air Force base in the United Kingdom and 14 other installations scattered across Europe will close as part of sweeping reorganization of forces on the Continent, the Pentagon announced.

Operations at RAF Mildenhall, home to Air Force special operations forces, air refueling tankers and 3,200 military personnel, will end and missions carried out there will be moved to other locations such as Germany. Two other facilities in the U.K. — RAF Alconbury and Molesworth — also will close as part of a consolidation effort. Most of the missions there will be moved to RAF Croughton.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon plans to station two squadrons of F-35s at RAF Lakenheath by 2020, which ensures the continuous presence of U.S. air power in the country.

As a result of the moves, there will be a slight reduction in overall force levels. However, Germany and Italy are expected to gain troops through the Pentagon’s moves.

In all, the Pentagon expects to save about $500 billion annually from the consolidations, which have been under review for more than a year.

Other announced closures and consolidations involve support facilities rather than major bases.