Pa. Lawmakers Dispute Air Force Base Closure

Wednesday, 11 Apr 2012 08:18 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Pennsylvania lawmakers are disputing U.S. Air Force claims that closing the 911 Airlift Wing, located just outside Pittsburgh, will save the Department of Defense $354 million over the next five years.
 
The Air Force released the figures Monday following a request by Republican U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, who along with other officials have want the Pentagon to justify its decision to close the base, the Post-Gazette reported Wednesday.
 
The lawmakers say the 911th remains one of the country’s most cost-effective bases. Nationally, the Pentagon plans to reduce fleets at 286 bases, but the 911th is the only one slated to close.
 
Murphy claims the Pentagon’s explanation falls short because it doesn’t include a fiscal comparison between the 911th and other similar bases, it doesn’t consider cost savings the base enjoys because it shares resources with other bases, and it also doesn’t consider the cost of $58 million in recent improvements at the facility.
 
However, the Pentagon says it considered several factors when it decided to close the 911th. It said the wing’s C-130 transport planes are aging, the base’s ability to expand operations is limited, and that it can transfer some of Pittsburgh’s guardsmen to the nearby Youngstown, Ohio, Air Force Reserve base.
 
The base has about 1,900 personnel, including 54 active-duty troops and 1,422 reservists and trainees. At issue, though, is the number of civilian employees. A base that has more than 300 civilian employees can’t be closed without congressional authority. The Air Force says 283 civilians work at the 911th, while the base itself says 318 are employed.

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