Pearl Harbor, Hickam to become a joint base

Posted: Thursday, August 27, 2009

HONOLULU - Pearl Harbor and Hickam Air Force Base next door are due to become a single installation next year as the military strives to become more efficient.

The military said Wednesday that Pentagon, Navy and Air Force officials recently signed an agreement finalizing the long-planned move.

The transition to Pearl Harbor-Hickam is due to begin in January. By October 2010, the bases will be united.

The bases are among 26 installations across the country that are being combined into 12 joint bases. They were singled out for consolidation in 2005 during the military's Base Realignment and Closure process.

In Alaska, Elmendorf Air Force Base is to merge with the Army's Fort Richardson. In Washington state, Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base will join forces.

Naval Station Pearl Harbor commander Capt. Richard W. Kitchens is due to lead the combined Pearl Harbor-Hickam base. His deputy is expected to be Col. Charles Baumgardner, the current commander of Hickam's 15th Mission Support Group, 15th Airlift Wing.

Kitchens said the military hasn't identified any positions that would be cut after the merger.

"Instant budget cuts and elimination of jobs are not the goals of this process," he said in a statement.

Mission readiness will guide the merger, along with supporting service members and their families, he said.

Officials will only start looking for ways to save money once they're sure they're following these guiding principles.

"Colonel Tuck and I, along with our staffs, are going about this very carefully, constantly with the mission in mind," Kitchens said, referring to Col. Giovanni Tuck, the current commander of the 15th Airlift Wing.

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