Home >> News: June 5th, 2013 >> Story
Satnews Daily
June 5th, 2013

Air Force Space Command... Sequestration To Inactivate Combat Communications Wings... (Comms)

[SatNews] Air Force Space Command and 24th Air Force officials have announced the inactivation of the 689th Combat Communications Wing at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, and the 3rd Combat Communications Group at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Inactivation of both units is scheduled for September.

The inactivations are part of overall Air Force force structure changes tied to a Fiscal Year 2013 Presidential Budgetary decision directing inactivation of one Air Force combat communications group. After the inactivations, the 5th Combat Communications Group, Robins AFB, Georgia, will have sole responsibility for Air Force combat communications missions.

The 689th CCW is the headquarters staff for the Air Force’s only two active duty combat communications groups. Combat communications Airmen deliver expeditionary and specialized communications, air traffic control and landing systems for global humanitarian relief and combat operations. The 3rd CCG in Oklahoma, and the 5th CCG at Robins AFB, Georgia, deploy worldwide to execute these missions. Assigned Airmen have unique skill sets and specialize in providing tactical operations in austere, joint and coalition environments. Inactivation of the 3rd CCG supports efforts to downsize deployable communications capability to match the reduction in combat air forces. This force structure announcement was initially made in 2012. Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act into law in January, which included an order to inactivate the 3rd CCG.

With one remaining active duty combat communications group, Air Force manpower thresholds no longer justify a wing headquarters structure. Upon inactivation of the 689th CCW, the 5th CCG realigns as a direct reporting unit under AFSPC’s 24th Air Force, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. These actions streamline 24th AF organizational structure, preclude establishment of additional overhead, and conserve scarce manpower resources. The 3rd CCG will also re-align under the 24th AF until the group inactivates in September.

“The inactivation of the 3rd CCG is part of a larger Air Force effort to shape the force,” said Col. Joseph Scherrer, 689th Combat Communications Wing commander. “In accordance with the President’s National Security Strategy, the Air Force is reducing deployable communications capabilities to match the reduction in combat air forces. Additionally, advances in new technology that is smaller and requires less manpower to setup and operate combined with our ability to leverage enterprise capabilities is enabling the Air Force to provide a similar capability with significantly less personnel. Combat communications will continue to support the warfighter through innovation and development of a lighter, leaner, and more capable force. Our primary responsibility right now is to take care of our Airmen and their families in the 3rd CCG and the 689th CCW staff as they transition to other units.”

The 689th CCW was responsible for the Air Force’s only two active duty combat communication groups, the 3rd CCG and the 5th CCG. Combat communicators from the 3rd CCG have served the nation in support of combat operations and humanitarian missions across the globe for more than 56 years.

The 3rd CCG inactivation affects 701 military manpower positions at Tinker AFB. The 689th CCW inactivation affects 33 manpower positions at Robins AFB. Airmen will be reassigned and/or relocated through the Air Force assignment procedures. Eligible Airmen may choose to retire or separate from the Air Force.

At the 689th CCW, one contract employee will transfer to the 5th CCG, also located at Robins AFB. At the 3rd CCG, the remaining contract personnel will continue to run the group network training and learning center until the scheduled Sept. 30, 2013 contract end date. The small number of remaining civilian employees at the 689th CCW and 3rd CCG will receive priority consideration for placement, per Air Force policy, at the respective installations, Robins AFB and Tinker AFB.