WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today applauded the news that the Senate Armed Services Committee has included a “strategic pause” in the Senate Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization (NDAA) bill. The move will preserve the C-27J program at the Mansfield Air National Guard Base (ANGB) for at least an additional year.
“The C-27J flying mission is vitally important to our national security and the livelihood of 800 men and women in uniform living and working in Richland County and beyond,” Brown said. “The Senate Armed Services Committee has done the right thing by including a strategic pause for the C-27J program, which ensures that the flying mission will remain at the ANGB for at least another year. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will be fighting to ensure that the funding is in place for the C-27J. Democratic and Republican members of the Ohio Congressional delegation in both the Senate and the House are standing united in opposition to the proposed C-27J program. We must work together, as we have before, to save this vital base.”
Brown has consistently stood against the proposals to eliminate the C-27J program, which would affect hundreds of National Guard positions in Mansfield. In March, 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, and convened a meeting between Members of the Ohio Congressional delegation and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley.
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.
In April 2012, Brown wrote to Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) urging preservation of the C-27J program. An excerpt can be found below.
I would also like to express my concern with the Air National Guard’s current C-27J basing proposal. Eliminating the C-27J could have detrimental effects on the safety and effectiveness of our deployed service members, while simultaneously increasing the costs of transporting troops and delivering supplies to remote areas. In addition, the C-27J plays an important role in homeland security.
The C-27J’s comparatively low operating costs and critical supply and operating functions cannot be replicated by other, older aircraft. Furthermore, the C-27J is critically incorporated into our overseas missions freeing up our CH-47 fleet to provide aerial assault and resupply support to ground troops located in remote areas.
I understand the Department of Defense claims that eliminating the C-27J will save money; yet it costs almost five times more to operate a CH-47 per hour than it does to operate the C-27J. Given that the CH-47 may have to conduct current C-27J missions should DOD terminate the program, the cost-effectiveness of this decision should be revisited.
I am also concerned that the U.S. Air Force may attempt to end the C-27J program without congressional authorization. The C-27J is a program of record. All stakeholders must have the time needed to consider the full fiscal and operational ramifications of ending C-27J procurement.
Should the Committee and the Air Force determine that the C-27J program should be eliminated, I ask that you work with Air Force 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 the tremendous task before you as we work through the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013. I look forward to working with you on the issues above and the authorization bill as a whole.