BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Soon, half of the aircraft stationed at Keesler Air Force Base will take off for good. Ten C-130Js will find a new home at an Little Rock, Arkansas Air Force Base.
"It doesn't make sense," former commander at Keesler Lt. General Clark Griffith said, "We do need to downsize in certain places, but let's do it smart. Let's just not do dumb things and I consider this a dumb thing."
As a former Biloxi City Council member, Griffith knows losing nearly 200 airmen and women in just three months will cost the coast and the nation.
"Why do we need to move an already existing unit? And we have to move them to Little Rock where we have to build facilities and we have to do things we have already got? We have to spend more taxpayer money."
The latest budget proposal is more bad news for Keesler. The Department of Defense is thinking about also cutting the 403rd Civil Engineer squadron, which employees 119 people.
"Our goal right now is to take care of our airmen and their families," 403rd Wing Commander Col. Frank Amodeo said. "We are going to have about 400 or so airmen that could potentially be displaced, about 90 civilians and full time employees, and about 300 or so traditional reservists."
Currently, there are about 1,700 employed at Keesler. If all the cuts go through, that number would eventually be just under 1,400.
"We are working very hard with headquarters, Air Force Reserve Command, to mitigate the angst, if you will, and stress that goes along with those changes," Col. Amodeo said. "What makes it particularly tough is many of those men that fly these tactical planes just deployed a few months ago so they came home, in many cases, to pink slips."
"Stay tuned to all of this because this is a beginning of all of this, there is a lot of things happening," Griffith said. "Let your Congressional folks know your feelings on this. Let them know that this is not right."
The Hurricane Hunters will remain at Keesler and with all these changes the base's mission will shift to be predominately weather reconnaissance.