Casey Calls on Administration to Abandon Plans to Close 911th Air Force Base

New Defense Department Plan Calls for Closure of 911th Base; Casey Voices ‘Strong Opposition’ in Letter to Defense Secretary

Closing 911th Would Cost 1,700 Jobs, Hurt Region’s Economy and Undermine U.S. National Security

Washington DC- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) released a letter to Leon Panetta, U.S. Secretary of Defense,  urging him to immediately abandon plans to close the 911th Air Force base in Pittsburgh. The decision to close the base, which the Defense Department first disclosed on Friday, would cost 1,700 jobs, could hurt the region’s economy and would undermine U.S. national security.

In his letter to the Administration, Casey called on Secretary Panetta to reverse course and immediately abandon plans to close the 911th Air Force base.

Senator Casey wrote, “The 911th Airlift Reserve Wing in particular should be recognized for distinction -- it has consistently met its recruitment goals, while other Air Force Reserve components around the country have fallen short.  The people of Pittsburgh want to continue to serve – we should be looking for ways to expand, not contract, those opportunities.”

The 911th has long called Pittsburgh its home and has contributed mightily to the country’s national defense as well as serving as an economic catalyst for the region. Specifically, the men and women of the base have supported the C-130 aircraft and personnel deployments throughout the world. The 911th’s excellent workforce has made a positive impact on country’s national defense strategy and has met its recruitment goals when other bases around the country failed to do so.

In his letter, Casey called the 911th an example of a base the military should be looking to expand because of its record of excellence, not close. The full text of Senator Casey’s letter to Secretary Panetta can be seen below:

February 4, 2012

The Honorable Leon Panetta

Secretary

U.S. Department of Defense

Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Secretary Panetta:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the proposed closure of the 911th Airlift Wing in Pittsburgh and urge the Department of the Air Force to reverse this decision.  Before the U.S. considers closing bases here in the United States, we must first seriously look at consolidating our base presence abroad.  The 911th Airlift Wing is an essential component of our ability to protect the American people and maintaining this base is in our national security interests.  I would like to know the exact criteria by which this decision was made and why the Department of the Air Force proposes to close this facility while keeping similar facilities open across the country.  I look forward to a briefing from the Department of the Air Force on this issue as soon as possible. 

I strongly urge the Department of the Air Force to identify a sustainable mission for the 911th and deploy additional assets to this important base.  The 911th has a proud history of supporting the C-130 aircraft and personnel deployments in support of both SOUTHCOM and CENTCOM.  The 911th has also provided critical care for our wounded airmen through an Aeromedical Staging Squadron.  This very talented workforce of Air Force Reserve members and civilians are crucial elements of our ability to maintain a superior military edge.  The expertise and knowledge of the personnel of the 911th cannot be easily recreated.  We must preserve, support and enhance these important capabilities because without them we are weaker as a nation. 

The talent of the 911th workforce is a testament to the commitment and patriotism of the people of Pittsburgh.  Pittsburgh citizens have served our country honorably throughout our history and continue to do so through all of our armed forces.  The 911th Airlift Reserve Wing in particular should be recognized for distinction -- it has consistently met its recruitment goals, while other Air Force Reserve components around the country have fallen short.  The people of Pittsburgh want to continue to serve – we should be looking for ways to expand, not contract, those opportunities.

The 911th has worked assiduously in recent years to maximize efficiencies in light of our fiscal challenges.  As a result, the 911th plans to welcome a Navy detachment as well as a Marine helicopter detachment onto the base in 2012.  I am proud of the 911th’s commitment to maximizing resources and have full confidence that it will continue to do so if provided the continued honor to serve the American people.

I appreciate the challenges that the Pentagon faces as a result of our fiscal realities and the increased pressure to find savings.  I do not believe, however, that this decision is in our security interests and that it will diminish our critical capabilities.  I urge you to recognize the history of excellence at the 911th and reconsider your proposed decision to close the base.  I look forward to your prompt response.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator