Experts hope B-1s keep Ellsworth alive if sequester becomes real - KOTA Territory News

Experts hope B-1s keep Ellsworth alive if sequester becomes reality

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Caught up in the fiscal cliff talks are sweeping sequester cuts that would reduce armed forces spending by as much as $500 billion over the next decade.

It's not yet clear what would happen if those cuts become reality, but local experts are hopeful Ellsworth Air Force Base will weather the fiscal storm.
 
Executive director for the Ellsworth Task Force with the Rapid City Area Chamber of Commerce Pat McElgunn said the base's B-1 Bomber fleet should keep Ellsworth relevant to military strategy.

It would be possible to move the fleet to another base if the Air Force is forced into another round of facility closures, but McElgunn says the expansion of a nearby training area makes Ellsworth more attractive.
 
"If you can train 10 minutes after you leave the ground," he said, "you're saving fuel, you're saving time, you're saving wear and tear on the aircraft. Whereas the other places, if you're having to train like that, you may have to fly an hour to get there and an hour to get back."
 
McElgunn said he expects cuts to civilian employment levels before reductions in the fighting force.

Ellsworth helps provide jobs to roughly 10,000 people, both on-base an in positions that support the base.

Those jobs provide a boost of about $330 million to Rapid City's economy.
 
McElgunn added even if the sequestration cuts do kick in, it won't be a slamming door, but rather a gradual reduction over the coming months.

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