A Pittsburgh area Congressman says the Air Force's decision to close the 911th Airlift Wing was "misinformed and mistaken and misguided."
U.S. Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) testified Tuesday before the House Committee on Armed Services which is beginning to craft the National Defense Authorization Act (the military budget) for fiscal year 2013. The Air Force is planning to shut down the 911th Airlift Wing by September of next year as part of a proposal to trim overall costs by $8.7 billion.
Murphy said he understands why the Air Force made a "faulty decision" because he suggests it had faulty data.
"What they need to look at is what's the cost benefit analysis of the Pittsburgh 911th base compared to others around the country where they don't have the runways, they don't have the fire safety and security support that this base gets [from the Allegheny County Airport Authority] practically for free," Murphy said. "They didn't notice the Navy is about to move in and share costs."
While the Air Force plans to cut back operations at other bases around the country to save money, the 911th is the only one scheduled to be closed. Murphy insists that the Air Force cannot act unilaterally because there is a mandatory Congressional review of a planned base closing when there are more than 300 employees at the facility. The Air Force says there are around 280 at the base.
Murphy said the Obama Administration has not responded to numerous bipartisan requests to remedy this issue.
"The sad irony is today the First Lady stopped by to talk to the families, thank them for their service to the country, the families of airmen from the 911th," said Murphy. "It's unfortunate that at the same time the Pentagon is giving those families the pink slip."
Murphy said the Air Force should review the cost effectiveness of the 911th and not make a hasty decision. "We will help them find ways to trim costs, but this [closing the 911th] isn't it."