U.S. Senator Pat Toomey today praised the Senate Armed Services Committee's recent actions to preserve the Pittsburgh-based 911th Airlift Wing and 171st Air Refueling Wing.
The committee's markup this week of the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act included a provision to block almost all retirements of aircraft in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, thus saving the 911th and 171st. The committee's bill also locks in current personnel authorizations, preserving the units' jobs.
Sen. Toomey has worked with his Senate colleagues, including Senate Armed Services members Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and David Vitter (R-La.) to resolve the future of the 911th and 171st. He also met with the Military Affairs Council of Western Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Adjutant General Wesley Craig and sent letters to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Phillip Breedlove, vice chief of staff for the U.S. Air Force.
"I'm pleased the House and Senate Armed Services committees have recognized the merits of the 911th Airlift Wing and the 171st Air Refueling Wing and the cost savings that come from keeping these bases open. This is a victory for Pittsburgh and Southwest Pennsylvania," Sen. Toomey said. "I especially appreciate the efforts of my Senate colleagues, notably Sens. Cornyn, Graham and Vitter, to help me preserve these jobs and ensure our long-term military preparedness."
Stakeholders in Pennsylvania joined Sen. Toomey in praising the committee's actions:
"We are very pleased with the work of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Pennsylvania congressional delegation that has stopped the Air Force's plans to take disproportional cuts from the Air Guard force structure. This is in recognition of the vital role played by the Air Guard in both national defense and homeland security and a realization of the cost effectiveness of the Guard," said Pennsylvania Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig.
"I want to applaud the hard work and dedication of Sen. Pat Toomey in his ongoing efforts to halt the closure of the 911th. We have said from the very beginning that the facts are on our side, and it appears that both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees agree. We are especially proud that the 911th and the 171st are two of the most cost-effective and strategically important operations in the country. We applaud Sen. Toomey for continuing to make that case to the Air Force and thank both his Senate colleagues and the entire Western Pennsylvania congressional delegation for taking this matter on diligently in a bipartisan fashion," said Chip Holsworth, chairman of the Military Affairs Council of Western Pennsylvania.