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BOISE -- The final decision hasn t come down yet, but officials at Boise s Gowen Field are bracing for a change that could cost the area scores of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

Military restructuring and budget cuts threaten to yank aircraft from Boise s Gowen Field and shift the Idaho Air National Guard to Mountain Home. The change could effectively shutter most of the base s operations by stripping away the fleet of A-10 fighter jets as well as the Army National Guard's Apache helicopters.

That would spell the end of nearly $300 million in government funding and 1,400 jobs. An additional 545 airmen would be required to commute to Mountain Home.

That s a bitter pill to swallow for many, including Maj. Gen. Gary Sayler, commander of the Air National Guard and a member of Gov. C.L. Butch Otter s cabinet.

I can't imagine it, he said. I think it'd be a real loss for the community, and for the Air Force as a whole, if we were to move out of Gowen Field.

Built during WWII to train bomber pilots, including legend Jimmy Stewart, Gowen Field at one time held as many as 10,000 people. Barracks from that era are still standing.

But the base s storied past could fade if its aircraft take to different skies and the Air National Guard pulls up its roots.

We would just hate to see the Air National Guard move out of here because of the long history we have here and because of the great support we have from the city of Boise, Sayler said.

Col. Tim Marsano says the impact goes beyond just those who work on the base.

Should we lose these two important flying missions, that s a significant cut, not just to us, the citizen soldiers and citizen airmen, he said, estimating area businesses and the city of Boise itself will suffer as well.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh III visited the base last week, a trip Sayler said he was grateful for. He hopes a first-hand look will help convince the top brass to leave Gowen Field out of the budget cuts.

Welsh said no decision have been made yet.

Even if the hammer does come down on Gowen Field, Marsano said there is still a chance. The base might become the home of F-15 jets instead of the A-10s, and Gowen would likely get a handful of Black Hawk helicopters once the Apaches are gone.

It s really tenuous right now, he said. There are a lot of details to be worked out on exactly how that would work, and we're sort of waiting to hear.

Everyone at the base is aware of the worst-case-scenario: hangars, buildings and positions left empty. But despite the pall of an uncertain future, Sayler is confident Gowen Field will continue to play an important role in the nation s military.

To vacate those facilities, to let them sit idle with hopes of someday bringing missions back--we just don't think that s a very feasible thing to do, he said. We're cheaper to operate, cheaper to maintain, and therefore we're an essential part of the future of the Air Force.

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