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Kirtland re-opening in progress, retiree access slated for early July

service member saluting while wearing a face covering

A member of the 898th Munitions Squadron salutes during the 898th MUNS change of command ceremony at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 20, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Kirtland Air Force Base is now in the process of a staged re-opening of work centers and facilities across the installation. With the health and safety of the Team Kirtland workforce and their families as priority number one, the 377th Air Base Wing leadership began a re-opening process May 18.

The process includes five increments of returning to full strength, with each increment lasting approximately two-weeks.  In the first increment, 10 percent of the teleworking and non-essential workforce returned to the base. This week the installation entered increment two and 25 percent of the force returned to work in the office.  Each increment coincides with re-opening facilities. As thousands of Airmen and civil servants return to working on base, thousands more retirees will be introduced in the first week of July. As long as health and safety measures continue to be effective, the plan will go forward, according to 377 ABW and installation Commander Col. Dave Miller.

“As we reopen, we must ensure we are prepared for any spikes in infections among Team Kirtland, and that we are able to quickly contain any minor outbreaks,” Miller said. “We are ramping up toward full capacity, but with the necessary measures in place—social distancing, face coverings, hygiene, and safe workspaces. We are not going to bring people back in without protecting them and we are doing what our public health experts have determined is necessary.”

This will also be the case when 27,000-plus retirees in the local area are welcomed back onto the installation, the commander said.

“We will have tried and tested these health and safety measures for a number of weeks with a growing workforce by the end of June, and we will have a good idea how well we are protecting ourselves. If all goes well, we will then take the next step and bring our retirees back,” Miller said.

Kirtland joined military installations across the DoD in restricting access to the installation with the declaration of a public health emergency in response to the local spread of COVID-19 in March. This included restricting retirees (not part of the on-duty workforce) from the installation with the sole exception of access to the Pharmacy.

Under a steady stream of complaints from retirees, officials kept the restrictions in place to preserve operational capability and essential missions. The number of infections on Kirtland remained very small throughout. But Miller has been determined to bring retirees back as soon as safe and practical, and he said he’s happy the base is on its way to re-opening.

“It was certainly not an easy decision. We’ve had to make a series of tough choices each week throughout this public health emergency,” Miller said. “But as a fourth-generation military member, restricting access to our retired service members was especially difficult. There is now light at the end of the tunnel.”

Progress on the re-opening will be provided weekly on Kirtland’s official Facebook Page, during virtual town hall meetings hosted by Miller and various subject matter experts.