Casey to Air Force: Don’t Take Actions to Close 911th Until Congress Reviews Budget Request

With Troops from 911th Slated to Deploy, Casey Urges Air Force Not to Scale Back on Support, Compromise Safety and Readiness of Troops

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today urged Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley to not move forward with any plans to close the 911th Airlift Wing until Congress has been able to address the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2013 budget proposal. Congress’ ability to consider and act on the Defense Department’s budget request could be hindered if the Air Force proceeds with plans to close the 911th before the request has been addressed by the full committee process.

“Congress should be afforded the time and opportunity to fully review the Air Force restructuring plans, which are not final,” said Senator Casey. “The Air Force should not scale back on operational and logistical support prematurely, particularly when these troops are slated to deploy this summer. We simply cannot afford to compromise the safety and readiness of our troops.”

Senator Casey has made the case for keeping the 911th open with President Obama and in a personal meeting with Vice President Biden at the base last weekend.

In his letter today to Secretary Donley, Senator Casey urged the Air Force to provide full maintenance and logistical support for all upcoming missions, including a planned deployment to southwest Asia in September.

Senator Casey’s letter to Secretary Donley is below:

The Honorable Michael B. Donley

Secretary

United States Air Force

Dear Secretary Donley:

As you know, Senator Levin and Senator McCain sent a letter to Secretary Panetta on March 19 which expressed concern that the Department of Defense intends to begin implementing decisions in this calendar year which are included in the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request.  The Chairman and Ranking Member requested that the Department of Defense avoid taking actions that would restrict Congress’ ability to consider and act on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request.  I understand that you agreed to this request during the Armed Services Committee hearing on the Air Force budget on March 20.

On this basis, I am writing to request that the Air Force not move forward with any plans to close the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township until Congress has been able to address the FY13 proposal through the committee process.  Furthermore, the Air Force should ensure that the 911th is provided full maintenance and logistical support for all upcoming missions.  I understand that elements of the 911th will deploy to southwest Asia in September.  I expect that the Air Force will conduct the appropriate aircraft maintenance in preparation for this mission in order to ensure the safety and readiness of this deployment.  

The Congress should be afforded the time and opportunity to fully review the Air Force restructuring plans, which as you know, are not final.  These plans did not take into account the clear benefits afforded by the 911th installation for our national security and the local community in Pittsburgh.  

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senate

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