U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today announced that the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense has included funding in a must-pass defense bill to support a delay in the Air Force's proposed restructuring plans. Senator Casey called for the delay so the impact of closing the Pittsburgh IAP Air Reserve Station (ARS), home of the 911th, can be fully examined.
"The Air Force needs to be held accountable for the impact of its decisions on national security and local communities. Delaying any restructuring plans for one year will allow the unique capabilities and efficiencies of the 911th to be taken into account in any credible restructuring plan," said Senator Casey. "While the full scope of the Department of Defense Appropriations Act will have to be examined as it comes out of the committee, the inclusion of funding to maintain the current Air Force structure is a positive step forward for preserving the 911th."
The summary of the bill was announced on the subcommittee website, and the full text of the bill will be released tomorrow following the full committee markup.
Senator Casey has consistently fought to preserve the 911th, making the case that:
Leasing the Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station (ARS) is a low-cost operation: The Pentagon pays only $20,000 to lease more than 100,000 acres on the 911th installation, which is a small sum when compared to the amount paid to keep and maintain other bases.
Closing the Pittsburgh ARS could actually cost the Defense Department more money in the future: Recreating the 911th's capabilities could end up costing the Defense Department about $400 million.
Losing the Pittsburgh ARS would deprive the military of an incredibly skilled workforce: The 911th Airlift Wing has developed an aircraft maintenance program that has resulted in more aircraft availability days while saving the Pentagon more than $42 million over the last five years.
Last month, Senator Casey urged the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to prevent the Air Force from implementing major infrastructure changes for one year. The full text of Senator Casey's letter to the committee is below:
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye
Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Dear Chairman Inouye:
I am writing to express support for provisions in the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would prevent the Air Force from implementing major infrastructure changes in FY2013. This bill was voted out of the Armed Services Committee on May 24, 2012. I urge that this language be taken into consideration as your Subcommittee continues its consideration of the FY13 Defense Appropriations Bill.
As you are well aware, the FY13 NDAA prevents the Air Force from moving forward with its proposed restructuring plan until an independent commission provides its own recommendations for the makeup of the Air Force with regard to personnel, bases, and aircraft. The lack of transparency associated with the Air Force's initial proposal and infrastructure changes around the country is extremely troubling. Therefore, I urge you to provide the resources necessary to fulfill these NDAA provisions, including funding to support aircraft that the Air Force sought to retire and thereby did not budget for in the President's FY13 defense budget.
Legislative action is necessary to ensure that the Air Force does not take drastic and irrevocable action that negatively impacts communities across the country. Senators Levin and McCain have worked in a bipartisan fashion to address the shortcomings in the FY13 Air Force proposal. I look forward to helping protect these important provisions as the FY13 NDAA moves to floor and hope to gain your support as the FY2013 Defense Appropriation Bill continues to progress. Thank you for your consideration of this matter of critical importance to so many servicemembers and their families and communities across the United States.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator