Less than one week after the Air Force announced it would not be closing the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township, elected officials met to look toward the future.
Pennsylvania Representatives Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) and Mike Doyle (D-PA-14) were active in the fight to keep the base open because of its cost saving for the military, among other things.
“First and foremost this base should stay open because it’s important for the country strategically to have this base located here," Doyle said. "Secondly it’s good for the economy and this region. There’s jobs associated with this, people like to be in this area because of what’s here."
The Air Force had slated the 911th for closure in an effort to save $354 million over five years, but Doyle, Murphy and others argued that keeping the base open would save money because of the efficiency of the facility and its partnership with Pittsburgh International Airport.
The base will remain open through 2014, at which time it’s expected another Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) will review it again. But officials aren’t worried.
“We don’t fund bases in perpetuity,” Doyle said. “Just because the funding expires in 2014, that’s no different than any other base in the country. Everybody goes through that annual appropriations process where money is put together for these bases.”
Doyle called the year-long fight to keep the 911th Airlift Wing open a “mini-BRAC” and said it’s prepared officials for any future fight that may ensue. Murphy said the base is moving forward on plans that will make it stronger.
“What’ll happen when a BRAC comes by in a couple of years — at that time the commissary will be done; the Navy will have moved out here; we’ll see where their Marines are going to go," he said. "This base will be even better a couple of years from now. We’ll have a lot more to offer them.”
The Pentagon is expected to announce another round of BRAC in 2014. Officials said the 911th is well-positioned to stay open and added it may even grow.
“We know if they’re going to be closing some bases, they’re going to be looking for some other areas to expand,” Murphy said. “We want to let them know Pittsburgh continues to be one of the most cost-effective bases, so we want to make sure the door is open and the red carpet is out.”