WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is renewing his vow to fight any proposals from 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.
“There’s no question that we need to reduce our deficit. But we shouldn’t do it on the backs of the hardworking men and women of the 179th Airlift Wing at Mansfield’s Air National Guard Base,” Brown said. “Our brave men and women must have the equipment and resources necessary to do their job and protect our nation.”
In a letter sent today to President Barack Obama, Brown underscored the vital importance of the 179th Airlift Wing and the C-27J aircraft to Mansfield. “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,” Brown wrote. It has performed beyond expectations and this mission supports approximately 350 full–time jobs and 1,000 part-time jobs that could be at risk if the program is terminated. Mansfield’s proven record of success, including being first on the ground after the Haiti earthquake of 2010, illustrates the importance of the base’s work and mission.”
In December, Brown urged Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to delay a decision on the future of the C-27J program until Panetta meets with all relevant stakeholders and fully considers the ramifications of ending the C-27J procurement.
Brown, a native of Mansfield, has also 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 and can be seen here.
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Thank you for your leadership of our nation and Armed Forces.
I am concerned that the Department of Defense (DOD) is planning to eliminate the C-27J procurement program despite the plane’s comparatively low operating costs and critical supply and operating functions. 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. In addition, I understand that it costs almost five times more to operate a CH-47, per hour, than it does to operate the C-27J. Elimination of C-27Js could have detrimental effects on the safety and effectiveness of our deployed servicemembers, while simultaneously increasing the costs of transporting troops and delivering supplies to remote areas.
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 and this mission supports approximately 350 full–time jobs and 1,000 part-time jobs that could be at risk if the program is terminated. Mansfield’s proven record of success, including being first on the ground after the Haiti earthquake of 2010, illustrates the importance of the base’s work and mission.
I ask that you reject proposals to eliminate the future procurement of the C-27J program until DOD has met with all stakeholders and has considered the full fiscal and operational ramifications of ending C-27J procurement. Should such an analysis determine that the C-27J program be eliminated, I ask that you require DOD to identify a replacement mission for Ohio’s Mansfield Air National Guard base before its C-27J mission – and the men and women who serve it – are terminated.
I appreciate your attention to this matter and your commitment as Commander in Chief to ensuring our nation’s servicemembers have the resources they need to accomplish their missions.