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Letter to Robert Gates, Secretary of the United States Department of Defense - Counterdrug Training Center at Fort Indiantown Gap

Casey, Holden Urge Department of Defense to Fund Counterdrug Training Center at Fort Indiantown Gap

U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Congressman Tim Holden (D-PA) have spearheaded a bipartisan letter signed by ten of their colleagues in Pennsylvania's Congressional delegation urging Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to fund the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center (NCTC) at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. NCTC will be forced to close on February 15 if no supplemental funding is received, eliminating 61 jobs and a valuable resource in the effort to reduce the availability and use of illicit drugs.

"Local law enforcement and drug demand reduction agencies in Pennsylvania will lose access to important training opportunities and resources in the event that NCTC is forced to close its doors," the members wrote. "With your continued support, we will continue to provide this essential and valuable service to agencies and communities throughout the Northeastern United States."

"At a time when crime spurred by the illegal drug trade is harassing our communities, we need to do everything in our power to keep drug and crime fighting tools like the NCTC in operation," said Senator Casey. "The NCTC has a proven track record of effectively training law enforcement officials. It would be a step back in the fight against illicit drug use and narco-terrorism to close this facility, as well as an unnecessary loss of jobs as the economy is struggling to improve."

In fiscal year (FY) 2010, Senator Casey secured $4.5 million for the NCTC. Senator Casey secured $2.8 million for the NCTC in a draft of the FY 2011 budget, however appropriations bills were blocked at the end of last year and the FY 2011 funding did not go through.

"For 2010, the NCTC trained over 14,000 law enforcement officers, 5,000 of whom came from Pennsylvania," said Congressman Holden. "This training provides law enforcement officers with the proper training to combat crime and keep our communities safe from the illegal drug traffic. In addition, we cannot afford to lose sixty-one well-paying jobs for our National Guardsmen and the boon to our local economy."

The letter, sent to Secretary Gates on January 14, was cosigned by U.S. Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Robert A. Brady (D-PA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), Jason Altmire (D-PA), Glenn "GT' Thompson (R-PA), Mark S. Critz (D-PA), Lou Barletta (R-PA) and Todd Platts (R-PA).

The letter requests $4.5 million to maintain current NCTC operations through FY 2011 and urges the Department of Defense to fully fund the NCTC in its FY 2012 budget request.

Operated by the Pennsylvania National Guard, NCTC provides no-cost regional training to local, state and federal law enforcement officials, community-based prevention professionals and first responders in a wide range of investigative support, drug demand reduction, narco-terrorism and officer safety. The NCTC has a ten year proven record of success. In 2010, almost 16,000 personnel were trained at the NCTC in the Northeast region, which is comprised of eighteen states and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the letter is below.

Dear Secretary Gates:

We would like to take this opportunity to write to you on behalf of the Pennsylvania National Guard and the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center (NCTC) located at Fort Indiantown Gap, PA. NCTC is in immediate need of assistance. If no supplemental funding is received, NCTC will close its doors on February 15, 2011.

Operated by the Pennsylvania National Guard, NCTC provides no-cost regional training to local, state and federal law enforcement officials, community-based prevention professionals, and first responders in a wide range of investigative support, drug demand reduction, narco-terrorism, and officer safety. The NCTC has a ten year proven record of success. In 2010, almost 16,000 personnel were trained at the NCTC in the Northeast region, which is comprised of eighteen states and the District of Columbia.

NCTC is guided by a board of directors comprised of military and senior law enforcement officials within the region. Through the board and partnerships with civilian law enforcement and anti-drug organizations, associations, community coalitions and emergency responders, training gaps are identified, curriculum is developed and exceptional training made more accessible to meet the constant demands of reducing the availability and use of illicit drugs.

In lieu of the lost training to combat drug trafficking, another catastrophic result is the sixty-one Pennsylvania National Guard members who will lose their jobs. NCTC has already reduced their courses for January based on the budget guidance provided for fiscal 2010. However, NCTC will have to cease operations starting in February unless additional funding is received since Congress has yet to pass a fiscal 2011 budget. Local law enforcement and drug demand reduction agencies in Pennsylvania will lose access to important training opportunities and resources in the event that NCTC is forced to close its doors. With your continued support, we will continue to provide this essential and valuable service to agencies and communities throughout the Northeastern United States.

We respectfully request you support the $4.5M required to maintain current operations throughout FY'2011. As you deliberate on the FY'2012 Defense Budget, we urge you to please support full funding for this critical project in the President's budget request and fully fund the operating requirements of the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senate

Tim Holden
Member of Congress

Chaka Fattah
Member of Congress

Michael F. Doyle
Member of Congress

Robert A. Brady
Member of Congress

Jim Gerlach
Member of Congress

Allyson Y. Schwartz
Member of Congress

Jason Altmire
Member of Congress

Glenn W. Thompson
Member of Congress

Mark Critz
Member of Congress

Lou Barletta
Member of Congress

Todd Russell Platts
Member of Congress


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