Decision on 911th air base due Wednesday at Pentagon

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WASHINGTON -- The wait soon could be over for Pittsburgh reservists eager to know the fate of the 911th Airlift Wing that last year was put on a list of base closures.

Pennsylvania's congressional delegation has been fighting the planned closure and has managed to stave it off with a series of delays.

Lawmakers are scheduled to meet with Pentagon officials Wednesday and are expecting a final decision on the base in Moon adjacent to Pittsburgh International Airport in Rep. Tim Murphy's district.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek confirmed that a decision is coming Wednesday but said she could not discuss the details until then.

Mr. Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, said he is hoping for good news.

Mr. Murphy said the decision to close the base was shortsighted and based on limited information. The Air Force didn't take into account $58 million in recent capital improvements, comparisons of the costs to operate similar bases or consideration of efficiencies realized by sharing resources with the airport and with other nearby bases. For example, the base pays a token $20,000 a year to use the airport's runways and its fire and rescue teams, he has said.

When defense officials announced the base closure, they didn't know how efficient the base was, he said.

"We told them everything. Now they have all the numbers," he said. About 1,900 personnel are stationed at the 911th.

The initial closure announcement was a part of a sweeping Air Force plan to save $8.7 billion -- including $354 million from the Moon base -- over five years.

nation - neigh_west

Bureau chief Tracie Mauriello: tmauriello@post-gazette.com, 1-703-996-9292.


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