U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today released the following statement in response to the United States Air Forces' plan to proceed with the transfer of an A-10 aircraft to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri from Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan:
"Missouri's military bases have earned a reputation the world over for their contributions to our nation's defense. Today's announcement is great news for Whiteman Air Force Base and the surrounding communities because it means Whiteman will continue playing a crucial role when it comes to protecting Americans' freedoms."
Earlier this year, McCaskill predicted the continued growth of Whiteman Air Force Base even as the Pentagon was seeking authorization for two additional base closure rounds. Last month, following a four-month fight waged by McCaskill to protect military communities, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta abandoned his proposal for domestic base closures in 2013 and agreed to McCaskill's request that the Pentagon instead focus on saving money by closing down overseas installations.
McCaskill previously told top military officials that, as Chairman of the Senate panel with jurisdiction over base closures, she would not allow any plan to move forward this year to close U.S. military bases here at home. McCaskill chairs the Subcommittee on Military Readiness and Management Support-which has jurisdiction over base closures-and told Pentagon officials that they had not made a convincing case that another round of base closures would benefit American taxpayers or national security.
McCaskill specifically pointed to serious questions that have been raised about how much money was actually saved in the most recent round of closures in 2005. McCaskill argued that the Pentagon should take a thorough look at how much could be saved by closing military installations overseas, many of which she said are relics of the Cold War. "I will not support the request for a BRAC process to be carried out in 2013. Government auditors have not yet completed a final analysis of the recently completed 2005 BRAC round. Congress needs a more complete understanding of our planned force structure, including our overseas force posture, before we even consider a new round of BRAC."
In May, McCaskill also successfully excluded language from the National Defense Authorization Act that would have authorized an additional round of BRAC. In so doing, McCaskill ensured that the Defense Department would not have the legal authority to attempt to pursue a round of base closures in 2013.