WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today vowed to fight an Air Force proposal, currently under consideration at the Defense Department, to eliminate the C-27J program. The elimination of the C-27J could have a serious impact on the 179th Airlift Wing at the Mansfield Air National Guard Base. The C-27J, in addition to being used in overseas operations, is also used domestically for disaster relief and other missions.
“The C-27J program is not only vital to the men and women of the 179th Airlift Wing, but to our national security. Two of the four C-27Js assigned to Mansfield are currently deployed in Afghanistan,” Brown said. “This is the wrong time to eliminate this essential defense program. Our brave men and women must have the equipment and resources necessary to do their job and protect our nation.”
Brown, a native of Mansfield, has pushed for the placement of additional C-27J aircraft for the 179th Airlift Wing, both in a recent meeting with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and in a letter to Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Craig McKinley. Under the current proposal, the Mansfield ANGB—along with eight other bases around the country—will house four operational C-27J aircraft. However, Brown is concerned that four aircraft will not be sufficient for home station training and homeland security functions, and is requesting that the Air Force develop an alternative plan that would deliver additional aircraft to Mansfield ANGB. A copy of that letter can be seen here.
Brown visited the base in October 2011 to tour the new Armed Forces Reserve Center and Rapid Engineers Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE) facility. He also visited the base in August 2010 to celebrate a new mission for the 179th Airlift Wing. The 179th Airlift Wing recently became a Joint Air-Army base with the addition of the Army Ohio National Guard's new fire station in May 2010.
In 2005, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) recommended that the 179th Airlift Wing be dismantled. The base’s service record, along with actions taken by the Ohio Congressional delegation, kept the base open and transformed it into a joint base. Brown has worked with the White House, Administration officials and Air Force and National Guard personnel to secure the new mission for the Mansfield ANGB.
The full text of the letter is below.
The Honorable Leon E. Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Secretary Panetta:
Thank you for your leadership of our Armed Forces and your service to our nation.
On September 8th of this year, we discussed the importance of the Mansfield Air National Guard Base to our nation, and the importance of its new C-27J mission. In addition, we discussed the possibility of expanding Mansfield’s C-27J mission.
I understand that there is a proposal now to eliminate C-27J procurement. It is my understanding that the Air Force intends to request the program’s termination. The Department will be – or already is – considering the Air Force’s proposal. I ask that you delay a decision on the future of the C-27J program until you have met with all stakeholders and have considered ramifications of ending the C-27J procurement.
As you know, Ohio’s Mansfield Air National Guard base houses a wing of C-27J Spartan intra-theater airlift aircraft. This wing is a crucial tool for our servicemembers and is critical for our nation’s national security and overseas operations. It has performed beyond expectations. This is why the Air Force decided to place the C-27Js at Mansfield. This mission also supports approximately 350 full–time jobs and 1,000 part-time jobs that could be at risk if the program is terminated.
Furthermore, it is my understanding that incorporating C-27Js into our overseas missions has freed-up our nation’s CH-47 fleet, enabling it to focus on providing aerial assault and resupply support to our ground troops located in remote areas. If this is indeed the case, I am concerned that the elimination of C-27Js could have detrimental effects on the safety and effectiveness of our deployed servicemembers. Supporting our war fighters on the front line should be every service branch’s top priority.
Specifically, I ask that I be briefed on any possible decisions regarding the overall C-27J program, as well as the effect such a termination on the procurement would mean for Mansfield and our military.
I appreciate your attention to this matter and I look forward to your response. Thank you again for your service to our nation.