Gov. Corbett, in Speech, Backs Efforts to Save 911th Airlift Wing
The Pennsylvania governor speaks at the Moon Township-based air wing, urging military officials to scrap plans to shutter the base.
Standing beneath the wings of a C-130 aircraft at the 911th Airlift Wing, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said he would work with Pennsylvania's federal lawmakers to fight renewed plans to close the Moon Township air base.
Corbett, appearing alongside Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, and state Sen. Matt Smith, D-Mt. Lebanon, implored military officials and federal lawmakers to end efforts to close the 911th as a cost-saving measure.
"I'm going to ask our (Pennsylvania) congressional delegation to do whatever they need to do to save this base," Corbett said.
The U.S. Air Force has again taken initial steps toward closing the airlift wing after March 2013— after the expiration of a law put in place to delay a closure.
Military officials said closing the 911th, which employs 1,100 military and 300 civilian personnel, would save $350 million. All personnel positions on the base would be eliminated under the proposed closure.
"The thought process of reducing the Air Reserve at the benefit of active duty (Air Force) is a mistake, in my opinion," Corbett said.
The governor pointed to the relationship between the Pittsburgh International Airport and the 911th as a reason for maintaining the base. The airport supplies runways and services such as snow removal to the air reserve base at an annual cost of $20,000.
Speaking at the event, Fitzgerald called the cost-savings model "the best deal around."
Corbett also touted the "value of our citizen soldiers" who serve at the base.
"(The 911th) is an employer," Corbett said. "It employs thousands of people, whether directly on the base or off the base."
Officials have cited the wing's aging C-130 aircraft, which are among the oldest still flying in the military, as a reason for the closure.
"At first (the Air Force) based (the closure) on the number of civilian personnel at the base," Murphy said. "But when they found out they didn't have that, they walked back on that to try to justify their position."
Corbett said he has written a letter to U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in which he's explained the importance of the base to the region.