MANSFIELD, OH – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today toured the new Armed Forces Reserve Center and Rapid Engineers Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineers (RED HORSE) facility in Mansfield. Brown, who was joined by Colonel John C. Harris, the Assistant Adjutant General for the Army of the Ohio National Guard, also viewed the 179th Airlift Wing’s new C-27J aircraft at the Mansfield Air National Guard Base (ANGB). The 179th Airlift Wing received four C-27J aircraft, two of which are currently deployed in Afghanistan.
“After the BRAC Commission announced its intent to shut down the Mansfield base, we fought back together—and we won. The men and women who work at the Base can continue to serve their country and communities,” Brown said. “But we have to keep working to build the base. As budgets tighten, we must work to get new missions and expand the ones we have, so we insulate ourselves from any future threats of closure. This is about helping the base to continue to contribute to the local economy.”
Brown helped secure funding for the construction of the new $6.8 million RED HORSE facility, which supports the administration, operations, logistics, and training of a 202-member self-sustaining heavy construction unit, in the Fiscal Year 2010 Military Construction Appropriations bill. The Armed Forces Reserve Center is a new, $16 million facility used for administrative, storage, and training purposes. It also houses the 3rd Platoon of the Army Reserve 486th Engineers.
Brown, a native of Mansfield, 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.
Brown 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 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. A copy of that letter can be seen here.