Spending cuts planned at airbases

MILITARY chiefs at one of the region's American airbases have outlined widespread cost-cutting measures aimed at reducing a massive $3 billion shortfall in the United States Air Force budget.

MILITARY chiefs at one of the region's American airbases have outlined widespread cost-cutting measures aimed at reducing a massive $3 billion shortfall in the United States Air Force budget.

Major cutbacks have begun at RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall following the gloomy financial announcement, which left experts predicting a "budget crisis".

A radical rethink in training procedures, postponing all new civilian jobs and curtailing some equipment expenditure is expected as base officials begin tightening the purse strings.

Speaking last night, finance chiefs at RAF Lakenheath told the East Anglian Daily Times that they had now started a major re-evaluation on all areas across the base.


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And they admitted the cuts - affecting bases throughout Europe - were a direct result of the ongoing conflict in Iraq and the war against terrorism.

Base budget officer Capt Matt Waggon said: "We are still evaluating every option as we don't want to make a knee-jerk reaction and make a wrong decision.

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"We have to ensure we make a minimal impact but still get the best cost benefits. It is a challenge and a balancing act but we are confident we will get there.

"Some of the areas we are looking at are whether it would be more efficient to send two people to America for training or bring that one person over here to teach 100 people.

"We are still committed to continuing our wartime readiness obligations and we will base our financial priorities around that."

US Army Europe budget officer, Gary Marlar , said funds would have to be prioritised to ensure soldiers were adequately equipped and trained for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And Major Norm Dozier , financial controller at RAF Lakenheath, added: "We are facing a constrained budget and we are currently evaluating our financial position for the remainder of the fiscal year, which runs out on September 30.

"We are looking to be more efficient across the board looking at some specific areas internal to RAF Lakenheath."

Earlier this week, a spokesman at neighbouring RAF Mildenhall revealed the base would be postponing all new civilian jobs and curtailing travel costs and some equipment expenditure.

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