WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent a letter today to Defense Secretary Robert Gates expressing “serious concerns” regarding a Pentagon decision-making process that could potentially send an Air Force formal training unit (FTU) to Mississippi rather than the Mansfield Joint Army-Air Base.
“This training mission belongs in Mansfield, not Mississippi,” Brown said. “The Mansfield base has a proven record in national defense missions and cost-effectiveness. I will continue to raise this issue with the Administration to ensure that Mansfield gets a fair shake.”
In the letter, Brown raises concern over numerous flaws within the Pentagon’s decision-making process, including potential cost miscalculations that could bias the Air Force against selecting Mansfield as the training site for the C-27J FTU. Brown also cites Mansfield’s “proven record of airlift operations” and asserts that Mansfield’s experience in this field would lead to a “significant cost savings that have not been taken into account.”
“Mansfield has offered a path forward that mitigates any costs disadvantage—both real and imaginary,” Brown wrote. “I look forward to your response on this very important issue.”
Brown has been a strong proponent of efforts to bring the C-27J Formal Training Unit to Mansfield. In October, Brown led a letter of the entire Ohio Congressional delegation to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force urging placement of the C-27J FTU in Mansfield.
The full letter to Secretary Gates is below.
December 7, 2010
The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
Dear Mr. Secretary:
As the Department nears a decision regarding the preferred alternative location for the C-27J Formal Training Unit (FTU), I ask that you pay particular attention to the recommendation that the Air Force will present to you, as well as the factors and evaluations that led to their conclusion.
As you know, the 179th Airlift wing at the Mansfield Joint Army-Air Base is one of two finalists to house the C-27J FTU. I have serious concerns regarding the current decision-making process and hope that you address these concerns before any decision is made.
Mansfield is the only candidate with a proven record of airlift operations. This should not be summarily discounted and must be given much more weight in the evaluation process. Mansfield’s extensive experience will result in significant cost savings that have not been taken into account. Should the Department chose Mansfield’s competitor, interim training would have to be contracted out – for as long as two years. Mansfield could start the C-27J FTU mission today.
I am also concerned that the Air Force is overestimating the cost for locating the C-27J FTU at Mansfield while underestimating the costs of the other candidate. Even with the current miscalculated costs, Mansfield has offered a path forward that mitigates any costs disadvantage - both real and imaginary.
I look forward to your response on this very important issue.