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Congressman Murphy Fights Base Closure

As the Air Force looks to trim more than $8 billion, Congressman Tim Murphy (R- PA 18) is battling a third attempt to close the Pittsburgh 911 Airlift Wing. He's sponsoring a House Bill that stipulates that the Air Force has to keep C-130 aircraft at the Pittsburgh base, and cannot move them elsewhere. The bill is co-sponosred by Democratic congressmen Jason Altmire, Mark Critz, and Mike Doyle as well. Murphy said the Pentagon has the freedom to close bases that employ 300 or fewer personnel, but said the 911th has at least 318 workers. He also believes the cost analysis behind the planned closure was not thoroughly vetted.

"The Air Force has just spent a lot of money on that base upgrading buildings, building new buildings, new security systems, and for them to walk away after all that money was spent would also be upsetting to taxpayers," said Murphy.

In explaining their decision, the Air Force said "To deliver the capabilities required by the new strategic guidance and remain within funding constraints, the Air Force made difficult choices in all core functions, including the decision to divest portions of combat and combat enabler forces. The guiding principle was balance."

If the Pentagon wants to reduce costs, Murphy suggested having military personnel handle the work currently outsourced to consultants. He also notes that the Air Force and Navy plan to consolidate at the 911 Airlift Wing.

"The Naval Operations Support Center which is right now in North Versailles is going to be building on the 911th base. They also plan to share a number of facilities on the base, thereby reducing the cost for both," Murphy said.

If the cuts go forward, the base could close by September 2013.

USAF Force Structure Changes: Sustaining Readiness and Modernizing the Total Force [PDF]
This report from the Air Force explains their rationale behind closing the base.