Marietta Daily Journal - NAS Plays Key Role in U.S. National Security
By U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss
Today the Base Realignment and Closure Commission will visit Naval Air Station Atlanta as part of their important fact-finding visits to military bases nationwide that the Department of Defense recommended for either closure or realignment.
The Commission visit to NAS Atlanta is an important part of the process because it will allow the Commission and their staff a first-hand look at the valuable contribution NAS Atlanta plays in the national security of the United States.
While the BRAC process is a tough one, NAS Atlanta has a great story to tell. This visit will allow the base an opportunity to shine. There is no doubt that after an in depth analysis of Naval Air Station Atlanta, the BRAC Commission will see the value that we all see - that Naval Air Station Atlanta helps ensure our strong national defense.
In addition to providing the Commission a first-hand look at NAS Atlanta and the good work performed here, the visit will also allow the Commission and their staff an opportunity to learn more about the critical support NAS Atlanta provides our warfighters so they can review the Department of Defense's recommendation to close this facility.
After leaving NAS Atlanta today, the Commission will know the vital contribution NAS Atlanta has played in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of our efforts to win the war against terrorism. In fact, personnel from NAS Atlanta are stationed right now in Iraq performing key missions in logistics and intelligence, as well as, air superiority missions conducted by the Marine F/A-18 Hornet squadron VMFA-142.
Additionally, members of the VR-46 Eagles, who fly the C-9 Skytrain, provide crucial airlift logistics support and are conducting critical operations in support of US Central Command. The VAW-77 Nightwolves, who fly the E-2C, are making valuable contributions to our counter narcotics efforts. For example, the squadron seized 60,000 pounds of cocaine in the Caribbean area of responsibility and have been credited with over 40 arrests. Personnel from the USMC helicopter squadron, HMLA-773, were the first group in the 4th Marine Air Wing to be mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Furthermore, Reservists at NAS Atlanta have been mobilized to fill jobs for active duty personnel who have been moved forward in support of global war on terrorism. For example, many NAS Atlanta Reservists are working in Naval Hospitals in many cities within the United States to fill in where needed, because others have been called on to work overseas in support of the global war on terror.
As metro-Atlanta is the largest metropolitan area in the Southeast, NAS Atlanta has its home in a diverse region that provides high quality education, health care, and recreation for our military men and women and their families. The Atlanta area employs the 2nd largest number of people in the defense / aerospace industry of any metro-area in the country, behind only Los Angeles, and offers un-matched recruiting of Navy Reserve pilots and personnel in critical specialties such as aircraft maintenance. Another important strategic point is that 80 percent of the Reservists who stand ready to be deployed at a moments notice live within 50 miles of the base.
All of Georgia's 13 military installations play a key role in America's national defense. And all of Georgia's base communities strongly support our bases, and our military men and women and their families. We are grateful for their hard work and dedication. And, we are proud to have them call Georgia their home. Most importantly, we are proud that they contribute so effectively to our strong national defense and to ensuring America is safe and secure.
When the BRAC Commission visits the base today, they will see for themselves the important contribution Naval Air Station Atlanta makes and recognize its value to our national security.
Saxby Chambliss is Georgia's Senior United States Senator and is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.