Defense secretary keeps 911th Airlift Wing open another year
Share with others:
The 911th Airlift Wing at the Pittsburgh International Airport will remain open for another year, according to Defense Department correspondence.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta directed the Air Force to suspend all scheduled transfers and equipment retirements until fiscal year 2013, pending Congressional action on defense authorization and appropriation bills.
Mr. Panetta wrote in a June 22 letter to Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, chairman of the defense subcommittee, that money to carry out already-made plans, including the closing of the 911th, is unavailable without Congressional action on the appropriations bills, hence the need for delay.
"These delays impact our military capability and introduce uncertainty in future missions and training schedules for the effected units," Mr. Panetta wrote in the letter. "And they will also delay the Department's ability to reach the level of budget reductions mandated in the 2011 Budget Control Act."
The 911th Airlift Wing employs roughly 1,200 active personnel.
The Air Force had announced the decision to close the base in February as part of a plan to save roughly $354 million by 2018. Supporters of the base, including U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, maintained that this estimate was inaccurate and that the Air Force could save more money by retiring similar planes elsewhere.
In a statement announcing the delay this morning, Mr. Murphy said the Defense Department's decision reflected his efforts to expose flaws in the Air Force recommendations.
"This is welcome news for our region's military families and an important recognition of the role Congress must play in authorizing base closures and major changes to our military's structure," he said. "Even with this decision, our efforts are not finished, and I'm going to keep working to save the 911th -- one of the most accomplished and cost-effective bases in the country."
Mr. Murphy has also attached an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that requests that any base closure impacting more than 1,000 military personnel be included in the President's budget request and include thorough cost-benefit analysis.
First Published July 2, 2012 12:17 am