WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is continuing to press the Obama Administration on the proposed elimination of the C-27J program, writing today to the Secretary of the Air Force to stand against the proposed elimination of the C-27J program and to urge the Air Force to require the Defense Department to identify a replacement mission for the Mansfield Air National Guard Base if the C-27J program is cut.
“I ask that you work with the Congress to identify responsible ways to meet the Air Force’s mission requirements while addressing the Department’s budget constraints. In this vein, I ask that you immediately cease elimination of the program absent Congressional authorization. The C27J is a program of record,” Brown wrote to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. “Should such an analysis determine that the C-27J program should 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. “
Brown has consistently stood against the proposals to eliminate the C-27J program, which would affect hundreds of National Guard positions in Mansfield. In January, Brown urged President Obama to reject proposals to eliminate the C-27J program. 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 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.
The Honorable Michael B. Donley
Department of the Air Force
1670 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330
Dear Secretary Donley:
I am writing to reiterate my concerns regarding the Air Force’s proposed elimination of the C-27J program. I believe that eliminating C-27Js could have unintended consequences regarding the safety and effectiveness of our deployed servicemembers, while simultaneously increasing the costs of transporting troops and delivering supplies to remote areas.
I believe the President’s budget proposal calling for the elimination of the C-27J program is both shortsighted and counterproductive. The C27J’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 C27J 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 C27J missions should DOD terminate the program, the cost-effectiveness of this decision should be revisited.
I ask that you work with the Congress to identify responsible ways to meet the Air Force’s mission requirements while addressing the Department’s budget constraints. In this vein, I ask that you immediately cease elimination of the program absent Congressional authorization. The C27J 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 such an analysis determine that the C-27J program should 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 look forward finding a time when you are able to meet with myself and the Ohio delegation.
I look forward to continuing our work together.