Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) today welcomed news that an earlier Air Force decision to move C-130J planes stationed at Keesler has been delayed until April 2014, with possible delays until October 2014, when the Air Force will "reassess and determine the best course of action."
Palazzo released the following statement:
"I will continue working to ensure the Air Force and the Commission tasked with analyzing Air Force structure changes understand the costs associated with moving these planes," Palazzo stated. "From all angles, this proposed move doesn't make sense for the Air Force, Keesler, or for South Mississippi. The Air Force had to change its plans last year when it could not provide adequate cost or mission justifications for moving planes from Keesler to Dobbins Reserve Base. Since that time, they have failed to provide similar justifications for subsequent plans to move these planes. I believe these movements must be halted until the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force releases their report in February. This delay accomplishes that goal."
The news comes on the heels of Palazzo's recent testimony before the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, in which he also testified:
"The Air Force cannot continue to move planes, equipment, and people around every few years without looking at costs, the impact to communities, and current readiness. In a time of shrinking budgets and uncertainty, these movements appear unnecessary and, more importantly, as uncalculated expenditures. I believe the commission must strongly recommend that the Air Force stop all moves that were recommended without an estimate of short term cost savings, unless they are a matter of absolute military necessity."
Original plans to move planes from Keesler to Dobbins Reserve Base were scrapped after Palazzo raised questions about the costs associated with the move. In a hearing on the House Armed Services Committee in 2012, Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Plans and Programs, Lieutenant General Christopher D. Miller, responded to Palazzo's questions by acknowledging there could be extra costs associated with moving planes and stating, "It is true that the facilities there are not exactly suited at present for the C-130J."