U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today urged the Office of Management and Budget to conduct a study on a plan for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station to serve as an effective hub for various agencies, including building an on-site facility for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), allowing them to leverage the military installation's assets and produce potential cost-saving results. With deep cuts in defense spending and New York State military installations at risk for reductions in resources beginning next year, Senator Gillibrand is leading the fight to prepare and protect Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, the largest employer in Niagara County.
Senator Gillibrand wrote in a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew, "The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has been in discussions with Customs & Border Protection (CBP) regarding the construction of a $13 million facility on the installation for CBP's officers. This would enable the agency to leverage assets on-site that are owned and operated by the military. These may include the use of the air field, firing range, and personnel support functions such as the medical clinic -- a very cost-effective method for CBP to have access to these assets not normally available to them. This concept of leveraging the organic assets and capabilities of military installations without undermining their core missions to serve as federal campuses is promising and merits study."
Over the next decade, the Defense Department must find over $400 billion in savings. One of the areas these cuts will likely come from is through base closures, known as BRAC. As early as 2013, New York State may face the start of a new base closure round with a Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission deciding which military bases around the nation and overseas to close around 2015.
On October 14, Senator Gillibrand will convene a statewide conference in Syracuse to bring together military communities and business chambers throughout the state to strongly position New York's bases to ensure they survive cuts and closures.
Full text of the letter is below:
Dear Director Lew,
I am writing to request that you conduct a feasibility study of the potential basing of civilian agencies on Fort Hamilton and the Niagara Reserve Air Station in New York State.
In this difficult economic environment, I understand why the President is considering a Civilian Property Realignment (CPR) initiative through which unneeded federal civilian property might be divested. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who is committed to ensuring the strength of our national security infrastructure, I write to suggest that this CPR initiative should be strengthened by consolidating civilian agencies onto military installations where possible, and I believe Fort Hamilton and the Niagara Reserve Air Station presents ideal opportunities.
Several bases around the country, including Andrews and Bolling, are already housing non-defense agencies. This creates operational efficiencies and improved effectiveness as law enforcement and homeland security agencies can take advantage of secure facilities, runways, telecommunications and many other assets available on military installations. Agencies can cooperate in an unprecedented manner on homeland security, cybersecurity and other matters. Finally, but not least, the cost benefit is potentially enormous.
Fort Hamilton, located in Brooklyn, New York, is a great example of a base where such collaboration and co-location is possible. New York City is a hub for many federal law enforcement and homeland security agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The base can offer a cost-effective alternative to house these agencies. The civilian agencies would benefit from the operational and training equipment on base and the collaboration with Defense Department agencies working to address similar threats.
Additionally in Northwest New York, the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has been in discussions with Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) regarding the construction of a $13 million facility on the installation for CBP's officers. This would enable the agency to leverage assets on-site that are owned and operated by the military. These include the use of the firing range, dog kennels, and personnel support functions such as the medical clinic -- a very cost-effective method for CBP to have access to these assets not normally available to them.
This concept of leveraging the organic assets and capabilities of military installations without undermining their core missions to serve as federal campuses is promising and merits study. I therefore request that the Office of Management and Budget in collaboration with any other appropriate federal agency to study the feasibility of bringing operational components of appropriate non-DOD federal agencies on Fort Hamilton, Niagara Reserve Air Station, and any other installations the administration deems appropriate.