Defense Department’s Decision on Placing Key Assets at the 911th Could Come This Week, But Future of 911th Airlift Wing Still Uncertain
In letter, Senator Invites New Defense Secretary to Personally Tour Base
Washington DC- On the eve of a key Pentagon decision about whether to place key military assets at the 911th Airlift Wing U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), today, announced that he has appealed directly to the new Defense Secretary urging his Department to protect the Airlift Wing. During the confirmation process Senator Casey met personally with Secretary Hagel and stressed the importance of the 911th to the nation’s security and Southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy. In his letter, Senator Casey also invited the new Defense Secretary to personally tour the base.
“In our meeting prior to his confirmation, I stressed to Secretary Hagel the 911th’s well-known record for effectiveness and efficiency,” Senator Casey said. I strongly encouraged him to protect the 911th and I’m hopeful that he will ensure the Airlift Wing has the assets it needs to thrive and that he will personally come to Western Pennsylvania to see the high quality work being done there .”
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to Secretary Hagel can be seen below:
Honorable Charles T. Hagel
U.S. Department of Defense
Dear Secretary Hagel:
I would like to congratulate you on your confirmation as Secretary of Defense. I look forward to working with you on the pressing national security issues that face our country.
As you may recall during our meeting prior to your confirmation, we discussed my concerns regarding the FY13 Air Force proposal to close of the Pittsburgh Air Reserve Station, home of the 911th Airlift Wing. I am writing to request a meeting with you to further discuss these concerns.
The 911th Airlift Wing is an efficient and cost effective unit. Its aircraft maintenance program has resulted in an increase of aircraft availability days while saving the Pentagon more than $42 million over the last five years. Additionally, the Pentagon pays only $20,000 to lease more than 100 acres and access to four runways 365days/year, 24 hours a day. I understand that this is a small sum when compared to the parallel costs at other bases and installations. Finally and perhaps most importantly, a highly skilled and experienced workforce is employed at the 911th Airlift Wing, a significant resource for the Air Force.
The Department of Defense has invested millions of dollars in Pittsburgh’s military infrastructure. Last year, the Navy broke ground for a new Operations Support Center headquarters at the Air Reserve Base. In addition, construction continues on a new Commissary and Post Exchange near the McGarity Army Reserve Center. In light of these important investments, closing the 911th makes little sense and would be a waste of taxpayer resources.
As you begin your tenure at the Pentagon, it is my understanding that you are reviewing the recommendations of the Intra-Theater Airlift Working Group, led by General Michael Moeller that will determine the locations for 32 C-130 aircraft. I have strongly supported the 911th’s bid to house some of these aircraft. The 911th Airlift Wing has proven to be a leader in excellence and effectiveness, and should continue to play a vital role in our nation’s defense.
I welcome you to visit the 911th as soon as your schedule would allow. I think that you will be impressed with the facility and its committed workforce. I look forward to meeting with you soon to discuss this important installation and the critical role that Pennsylvania plays in our Nation’s defense.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator