FORT DRUM Based on reduced need, the Pentagon directed a contractor to show 150 highly skilled civilian employees the door, according to DynCorp spokeswoman Ashley V. Burke.
To say what exactly caused that reduced need would be pure speculation, Ms. Burke said.
But it is likely that both concerns over budget sequestration and the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan had something to do with it, according to Brian A. Gagnon, president of Local Lodge 2920 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. The announcement was made by DynCorp management Friday and came as a shock, Mr. Gagnon said.
The cuts directly affect the Armys Aviation Reset Program, which manages the inspections, repair and overhaul of Black Hawk helicopters returning to the U.S. from overseas deployments.
President Barack Obama announced during his State of the Union address last week that the U.S. will bring 34,000 troops home from Afghanistan over the next year, effectively halving the size of the force there.
The Fort Drum program had aircraft scheduled for work up to 2016, Mr. Gagnon said, and had met a requirement to reduce its workload by 25 percent.
We went from 10 to six aircraft, which is normal for a drawdown, Mr. Gagnon said. We never expected it to drop down to zero.
Budget sequestration may have an effect on how employees find new jobs as the work force is reduced from 220 to 70 starting at the end of March and ending in midsummer.
Mr. Gagnon said union members typically are able to find new work, given their expertise and the number of government contracts in recent years.
We work so much faster, so much better than everybody, he said.
But fiscal uncertainties, including cuts set to take effect March 1 that will reduce the federal budget by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years, may reverse that trend. Approximately half of that reduction is expected to come from defense spending.
Department of Defense officials deferred comment to the Fort Drum Public Affairs Office. Representatives from Fort Drum were not available for comment Tuesday afternoon.
The Army also has reset programs at Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Campbell, Ky., Mr. Gagnon said.
Ms. Burke said the availability of jobs for laid off Fort Drum employees at those bases was entirely in the hands of the military.