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Beale's 13th Reconnaissance Squadron to deactivate
Reflecting the ongoing shuffle of missions and groups within the US Air Force and the military as a whole, the 13th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base will be deactivated later this year, base officials announced Tuesday.
As of Sept. 29, about 200 pilots, maintenance personnel and sensor operators will be affected by the reserve unit’s deactivation.
In a press release, the 940th Wing Commander, Col. Kevin Cavanagh, said, “The loss of the 13th RS is unfortunate but we are doing everything we can to find positions within the wing and other Reserve wings for our affected airmen.”
A spokeswoman for the 940th Wing wrote in a story published on the Air Force’s website the deactivation is tied to the uncertain future for the RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30, which the 13th squadron members help fly and maintain.
The 9th Reconnaissance Wing, the primary active-duty squadron at Beale, is the principal unit serving the Global Hawks, an unmanned drone used for surveillance and reconnaissance.
Though defense officials discussed ending the Global Hawk program last year, a National Defense Authorization Act published earlier this year showed funding for the aircraft mission through 2014, so the squadron deactivation was a surprise, according to the article.
Air Force officials first announced the squadron’s deactivation in the same authorization act last month, but didn’t release details until Tuesday.
Bill Simmons, a member of the base’s community liaison committee, said some of the shifts in Beale personnel and missions is tied to sequestration, the broad-based federal budget cuts set to go into effect next week absent another solution.
But there’s still a good argument to keep the Global Hawk mission going, he said. “As long as there’s a war going on, or a threat ofwar, they’re going to need that information,” he said.
According to the 940th Wing’s financial management office, the 13th squadron’s members created about $11 million in local economic impact for where the reservists live and work.
Last week, base officials announced a RED HORSE heavy-equipment and engineering reserve unit, with about a dozen full-time and 180 reserve positions, will be established at Beale this year.