Friday, May 13, 2005

Youngstown Air Base Dodges BRAC List

Youngstown Air Base Dodges BRAC List
May 13, 2005 10:00 a.m.

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- After holding their breaths for months, officials in the Mahoning Valley can now breathe a collective sigh of relief: The Youngstown Air Reserve Station is not among the names of military installations across the country the Pentagon plans to close, it was announced this morning.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17, made the announcement at a news conference downtown a few minutes ago. Now, the campaign begins to make sure the facility stays off the list and to explore ways to maintain or even expand the base.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the Mahoning Valley, we did it,” Ryan told an ethusiastic crowd, “we are not on the list.”

Ryan also said the air base is actually earmarked by the Pentagon to gain capacity. “We’re not eaxtly sure how many, whether that means planes or personnel, but the bottom line is we are not on the list,” he said.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld released the recommendation list this morning. The BRAC Commission will now review the list and submit its findings to President Bush by Sept. 8. During a Pentagon briefing yesterday, Rumsfeld had said the commission would close between 5% and 11% of excess infrastructure, for a cost savings $48.8 billion over the next 20 years.

Shortly after taking office in early 2003, Ryan formed Operation: Save Our Airbase Reservists, a public-private sector partnership dedicated to preserving the air base, which has a projected local economic impact in excess of $100 million. More than 1,400 Air Force reservists are based at the Vienna Township, which also employs more than 300 Air Force Reserve technicians and 190 civilian Defense Department employees. Nearly 300 Navy and Marine Corps reservists also are stationed there.

The Vienna Township base is home to the 910th Airlift Wing, which in wartime employs Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft in tactical airlift combat missions. Currently, 12 C-130s are stationed at the base. With the recommendations announced, SOAR’s efforts now turn to keeping the base off the final BRAC list.

The Business Journal Online will continue to follow this story throughout the day.

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