Senator Makes Case that the Southwestern PA Base Is Important for Economic Growth in the Region and U.S. National Defense
WASHINGTON, DC – During a visit to the Pittsburgh IAP Air Reserve Station today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) questioned the Air Force’s plan to retire 65 C-130s, including those of the 911th Airlift Wing, while continuing to maintain at least 65 golf courses around the world.
“The 911th is an economic catalyst for southwestern Pennsylvania and an important part of our national defense that has no business being closed,” Senator Casey said. “The Defense Department has yet to put on paper their reasons for closing the 911th, all the while they intend to maintain at least 65 golf courses. This is simply unacceptable.”
In a letter sent today to Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Senator Casey outlined his concerns about the Air Force’s continued lack of transparency in its decision to remove assets from the 911th and close the base.
“I fully support and appreciate the Pentagon’s efforts to reduce spending and find efficiencies, but this process must be transparent in order to maintain my confidence and that of my constituents,” Senator Casey wrote to Secretary Donley. “Some of the proposals in the Air Force’s budget request do not appear to make fiscal sense.”
At a meeting in Washington requested by Senator Casey last month, Air Force officials failed to produce a detailed analysis of their decision to remove the C-130s from the base. In a subsequent letter to Secretary Donley, Senator Casey questioned the Air Force’s authority to close the base given that the base may be authorized for 300 civilian and 1000 reserve personnel. If base personnel exceed those minimum numbers, congressional approval is needed to shut the base down.
The 911th has long called Pittsburgh its home and has made significant contributions to the country’s national defense as well as serving as an economic catalyst for the region. The 911th is one of the most cost efficient reserve bases in the country, Senator Casey has argued, having met or exceeded its recruitment goals while other bases across the country have failed to do so.
The full text of the letter Senator Casey sent to Secretary Donley today is below:
The Honorable Michael B. Donley
United States Air Force
Dear Secretary Donley:
I am writing to reiterate my request for the analysis that led to the decision to remove seven C-130H assets from the 911th Air Wing in Pittsburgh, PA and the accompanying decision to close the base. I disagree with this course of action and I respectfully request a thorough review and reversal of this decision. As soon as possible please provide this analysis which I expect will include the civilian manning documents and a comparison of the cost efficiencies across Air Force Reserve bases.
I fully support and appreciate the Pentagon’s efforts to reduce spending and find efficiencies, but this process must be transparent in order to maintain my confidence and that of my constituents. Some of the proposals in the Air Force’s budget request do not appear to make fiscal sense. For example, I understand that while the Air Force plans to retire 65 C-130Hs, it will continue to maintain at least 65 golf courses at bases around the world. The Air Force has stressed the need to implement structural changes due to the budgetary restraints. As you continue the budgetary planning process, I would ask the Air Force prioritize and protect our experienced reservist community and the assets associated with their bases.
Thank you for your service to our Nation and commitment to addressing our ongoing budgetary concerns. I look forward to your reply.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senate