Pentagon to announce decision on 911th on Wednesday
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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 Congressman Tim Murphy's district.
Mr. Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, said he is expecting good news.
He said the earlier decision to close the base was short-sighted and based on limited information that 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.
Mr. Murphy said he believes the Air Force had been waiting to reveal its decision until the confirmation of new Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel two weeks ago.
"Now that he's been sworn in they're ready to tell us and I believe it's going to be good news," said Mr. Murphy.
"The Air Force has reviewed the numbers at a time that they're having to make significant cuts, and I believe they've come around to the idea that the Pittsburgh model of sharing facilities base and the airport," Mr. Murphy 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. "I'm optimistic."
About 1900 personnel are stationed at the 911th.
The initial closure announcement was a part of a sweeping Air Force plan to retire 286 aircraft nationwide in order to save $8.7 billion -- including $354 million from the Moon base -- over five years.
First Published March 11, 2013 2:37 pm