Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle (NY-25) released the following statement in response to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's announcement regarding the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request to Congress.
"Today the Secretary of Defense previewed the Department's upcoming budget request for Fiscal Year 2013. The Secretary stated that the Administration is taking steps to become more fiscally responsible while ensuring that the United States military remains the most powerful military force in the world. I look forward to reviewing the Administration's budget request when it is submitted to Congress in February.
"Included in Secretary Panetta's announcement was a notification that the Administration will request Congress authorize a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. I want to underscore that Congress will have a seat at the table in these discussions and ultimately decide whether or not to grant the Administration's request.
"Regardless of whether Congress authorizes BRAC, I will continue to work diligently in support of all missions and service members at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base. Over the last 15 years more than $100 million has been invested into the base, and the 174th Fighter Wing successfully modernized its operations by transitioning from F-16 fighter aircraft to MQ-9 Reaper to better meet the threats of today and tomorrow. In addition, the base is an invaluable asset to the region as it employs more than 1500 people and has an annual economic impact of approximately $96 million.
"I applaud the Administration for taking steps to become more fiscally responsible. The desire to consolidate operations and services in an effort to upgrade our nation's defense is commendable. The missions at Hancock Field are well positioned in the event of a BRAC because of the significant modernization efforts that have occurred there. Those initiatives have solidified Hancock Field Air National Guard Base as essential component of our national defense. The investment the United States government has made in the base over the past 15 years, its regional economic impact and support of our community should be all the evidence the Administration needs to understand its value."