My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to announce that, on 1 April, the RAF's personnel and training command and strike command will merge to form a single air command, with its headquarters at RAF High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. The creation of a single command, with a single fully integrated headquarters, will better equip the RAF to provide a coherent and co-ordinated single air focus to the other services, MoD head office, the permanent joint headquarters and the rest of MoD.
Over the past five years, the RAF has undertaken a significant amount of restructuring to improve delivery, reduce bureaucracy and eliminate waste. This has centred on force structure adjustments, estate rationalisation and logistics transformation. One element of this work focused on headquarters rationalisation and resulted in the collocation of headquarters personnel and training command and headquarters strike command at RAF High Wycombe in October 2006.
The success of this work, which resulted in a reduction of some 1,000 posts across the two command headquarters and annual savings of some £23 million, has enabled these resources to be better directed towards the delivery of support to the front line. The next step in this work is the creation of a single air command, which reflects the continued commitment of the Government to ensuring that resources are focused on the front line. The recent drawdown of personnel for collocation means, however, that the creation of a single air command is unlikely to lead to any manpower reductions.