Brown Goes to Bat for Mansfield's 179th Airlift Wing in Meeting With New Defense Secretary Panetta

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a meeting today with the new U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown pushed for the placement of additional C-27J aircraft for the 179th Airlift Wing based at Mansfield Air National Guard Base (ANGB.)

“Secretary Panetta knows better than anyone the importance of the work the Air Guard does overseas and at home.  With so many assets overseas, it is important that equipment and resources for our men and women in the Air Guard are adequate to meet all the missions they carry out,” Brown said. “The 179th Airlift Wing continues to play a vital role in our country’s national security, which is why having the adequate number of C-27J aircraft housed at the Base is so important.”

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 in a time of war, 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.

In June, Brown, along with seven other senators, sent a letter to Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Craig McKinley calling the current proposal “unworkable” and “unacceptable.” Brown and the senators suggested that the Air Force purchase enough additional aircraft—increasing the Air Force’s procurement from 38 to 42 aircraft—to supply each of the eight bases with six aircraft apiece. Alternatively, the senators suggested, the Air Force could deliver one additional aircraft to each base under the current purchase level of 38 planes, with one aircraft left unassigned.

“The operations tempo expected of these aircraft is high, with perhaps 16 of the 38 aircraft in the inventory estimated to be in theater at any given time.  Despite this high level of need, the deployment strategy for these aircraft is not yet clear.  We presume, however, that when needed overseas, at least two aircraft from each base will be forward deployed,” the senators wrote. “With one aircraft expected in some level of maintenance at any given time, only one aircraft would be available for home station training and homeland security functions.”

Brown visited the Mansfield 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.

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