HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --
Editor's note: This feature is part of a Hill Air Force Base 80th anniversary series. These articles will feature the base’s historical innovations and achievements, and will highlight mission platforms that have been operated and supported throughout the decades.
Like much of Hill AFB’s history, understanding what drove most of the operations at the installation during the 1980s can best be accomplished when considering it within a Cold War context. During the 1970s, tensions between the U.S. and U.S.S.R. eased during a period in the Cold War referred to as détente (a French word meaning release from tension).
This easing of tension resulted from President Richard M. Nixon’s foreign policy and visits he made to the People’s Republic of China and then Moscow in early 1972, but was continued by Nixon’s successors, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. Détente resulted in arms control treaties and a general drawdown of military spending in the U.S. after its withdrawal from operations in Vietnam during the mid-1970s.
Military spending was greatly curtailed in the last years of the 1970s, particularly for spare parts and essential support equipment. However, beginning in 1981 when President Jimmy Carter increased spending by two percent, the military budget grew by as much as thirteen percent, reaching a peak in 1985 under President Ronald Reagan (whose foreign policy brought an end to Détente). As a result of this large military buildup, readiness and sustainability of our military forces steadily improved.
Such increases rarely continue unabated for long, however, and a decline in the defense budget began after 1985. Congress passed the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 in an effort to curb the deficit and balance the budget. The act mandated reductions in spending and Air Force funding was cut approximately 4.9 percent in 1986, with further reductions scheduled each succeeding year.
As a result of the Iran-Contra Affair, President Reagan’s leadership style became increasingly “hands off” as his second term in office ran its course. The effect produced was a sharp decrease in military spending during the subsequent half of the 1980s after the first half of the decade’s enormous budget growth and deficit spending.
The Ogden Air Logistics Center benefited from the military buildup, as demonstrated by comparing the funding authorized in 1980 to funding in 1985. Procurement of aircraft spares, equipment, and supplies probably illustrates changes in the defense budget more clearly than any other factor. In 1980, the Ogden ALC was authorized $448 million for procurement, increasing to $862 million in 1981, and nearly doubling the next year, to more than $1.5 billion. The expansion continued until 1985 when more than $2 billion was authorized, but subsequently declined to $1.4 billion in 1987.
The Operations and Maintenance budget, money actually spent to fund base expenditures, increased steadily from $570 million in 1980 to $972 million in 1985. It remained constant for the next three years, totaling $984 million in 1987. Similarly, the Foreign Military Sales budget administered by the Ogden ALC in support of the F-16, F-4, and other aerospace equipment, fluctuated little, increasing from approximately $1.6 billion in 1983 to $1.9 billion in 1987. It is also important, of course, to take into account the factor of inflation, which amounted to three or four percent each year.
The major directorates of the Ogden ALC included: (1) Materiel Management, which continued to manage the aircraft, missiles, and commodities assigned to the Center; (2) Maintenance, the largest directorate in terms of manpower with between 6,000 and 7,000 people assigned, had as its mission to repair, modify, and overhaul aircraft, missiles, and commodities such as photographic equipment and simulators; (3) Contracting and Manufacturing, responsible for contracting with industry to obtain material and services to fulfill the Center's mission; and finally, (4) Distribution, responsible for the supply and transportation functions for the Center, and managing an inventory valued at more than $2 billion.
In 1987, a new automated warehouse system became operational, increasing the capacity of the system and the utility and efficiency of supply. The Plans and Programs Directorate performed the planning for the Ogden ALC. This directorate managed all Center exercises and published exercise and war plans.
The Ogden ALC continued its mission of System Program Management for several weapons systems as the Center entered its fifth decade of service. These systems included the F-101, F-4, and F-16 aircraft and the LGM-30 Minuteman, LGM-118A Peacekeeper (MX), and the LGM-25C Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). In addition, the Center continued its responsibility for the CIM-10 Bomarc anti-aircraft missile. Other responsibilities included commodities such as landing gear components, photographic equipment, and airmunitions.
New responsibilities assigned during the 1980s to the Ogden ALC included Source of Repair for the Ground Launched Cruise Missile (AGM-86B) in September 1980; Technology Repair for the Tactical Information Processing and Interpretation (TIPI) system in May 1981; the F-16 Flight Simulator in September 1981; Item Manager for 30 mm munitions and for the (GBU-24) Low Level Laser Guided Bomb (LLLGB) in January 1982.
The Ogden ALC continued to support F-101s, F-4s, and F-16s worldwide during the early 1980s. As the decade began, the F-101 Voodoo and F-105 Thunderchief were being phased out of service. While F-101s and F-105s met final disposition, F-4s and F-16s continued to fly and remain ready to fight. Hundreds of F-4s and F-16s rolled through Hill AFB’s maintenance lines, for maintenance or major modifications.