WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) convened a meeting today with Members of the Ohio Congressional delegation and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. The delegation expressed concern over proposed cuts to Ohio Air National Guard facilities. Brown and Portman proposed that the Air Force rethink a proposal to eliminate the C-27J program, which could lead to the loss of roughly 800 jobs at the Mansfield Air National Guard Base (ANGB).
“Our message to Secretary Donley was clear: eliminating the C-27J program is pennywise but pound foolish. In addition to affecting roughly 800 jobs in Mansfield, eliminating the C-27J program would affect domestic relief efforts and shift Air Force operations to cargo planes that are more expensive to operate,” Brown said. “On Monday, I traveled to Mansfield to meet with the men and women of Ohio’s Air National Guard. While we do need to make some tough decisions on how to continue to meet our national security needs while reducing our deficit, the C-27J is more cost-efficient than other aircraft and it is a vital part of our military mission—and that’s why eliminating the C-27J would be detrimental to both our national security and the Mansfield community.
“The proposal to end the C-27J procurement must go through Congress. That’s why it’s so important that members of the Ohio Congressional delegation, Republican and Democratic alike, stand united in opposition to the elimination of the C-27J,” Brown continued. “Saving the base must be a bipartisan effort.”
“I have significant concerns regarding the impact of some of the Defense Department’s budget proposal on Ohio and our nation’s security, which I shared with Secretary Donley last month as well as at yesterday’s Armed Services hearing and today’s delegation meeting,” said Portman. “While the Department can and should find savings as we seek to rein in government funding, I’m troubled with their proposal to significantly reduce the force posture and personnel of some Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units in Ohio, which could impact some unique national security capabilities.”
“I’m strongly opposed to the Air Force’s decision to eliminate the C-27J program, which would end up costing the taxpayer more when you look beyond the short-term savings they’re trying to find,” added Portman, who visited the Mansfield Air National Guard Base on Monday. “I have not been reassured by the Air Force’s answers to my questions that they’ve analyzed this problem thoroughly enough. This capability is the right one both for the taxpayer and the military. I’ll continue to fight for the Ohio communities affected by the Air Force’s proposal and evaluate the best course of action moving forward on the Armed Services Committee.”
Brown has consistently stood against the proposals to eliminate the C-27J program, which would affect hundreds of National Guard positions in Mansfield. Earlier this week, he visited the Mansfield Air National Guard to stand with the Ohio Air National Guard and the greater Mansfield community in opposition to the proposed elimination of the C-27J program. In January, Brown urged President Obama to reject proposals to eliminate the C-27J program, and in December, wrote to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, urging him 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 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.