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Opposition to military closure and transfer plans reflects national budget dilemma

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Posted: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 12:29 pm | Updated: 1:51 pm, Wed Jan 16, 2013.

In the Fairbanks area, the proposed transfer of the F-16 jets from Eielson Air Force Base has been at the top of the priority list, with considerable local opposition to the idea.

And actions by members of our delegation to seek to reverse or delay that project have been much in the headlines. This process is being repeated elsewhere in America, which illustrates just how sensitive military cutbacks can be.

This is one of the reasons that the Eielson transfer cannot be looked at in isolation.

For instance, the story that ran at the top of our front page Monday under the headline "Young's amendment could aid Eielson," dealt with a provision that would make the Air Force prove its plan would save money.

In the Beaver County Times in Pennsylvania, the story on the same bill and same amendment began this way: "The House of Representatives on Friday approved a defense appropriations bill that would make it more difficult for the Pentagon to close military bases such as the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township.

"The bill contains a provision drafted by local legislators, including U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-18, Upper St. Clair Township, that would close a loophole in existing laws, which currently allow bases with fewer than 300 civilian employees to be shut down without congressional approval."

Other provisions in the bill also won praise for the protection of other installations across the country.

The Daily Oklahoman said: "Among the moves that would be blocked by the bill is cancellation of an aircraft modification program that employs workers scheduled to move to Oklahoma City. The legislation would require a study before the Air Force could cancel a contract to upgrade the cockpits of C-130s. About half of the 550 Boeing Co. jobs scheduled to transfer from California to Oklahoma City this year are devoted to the contract."

The Sentinel & Enterprise in Fitchburg, Mass., said the bill would protect Hanscom Air Force Base: "This language simply states that the Air Force cannot diminish Hanscom's capabilities or its important work without congressional approval and is the first step in protecting Hanscom's mission going forward," said Rep. Niki Tsongas, a Lowell, Mass. Democrat.

The Northwest Florida Daily News said: "The U.S. House approved the National Defense Authorization Act on Friday, including language critical to keeping the Air Armament Center at Eglin Air Force Base. Rep. Jeff Miller introduced a paragraph that would require the Air Force to keep the Air Armament Center at Eglin unless a future Base Realignment and Closure commission decides it doesn't need to be there."

The Tonawanda News in New York said:  "A piece of legislation approved by federal lawmakers on Friday may bode well for the future of service men and women assigned to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station."

"The House of Representatives approved the National Defense Authorization Act, a piece of legislation governing military spending for the coming fiscal year. This year's bill included an amendment that would prohibit the U.S. Air Force from retiring any aircraft in 2013, including C-130 cargo planes operating out of the base in the Falls."

The Telegraph Herald in Dubuque said that Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley praised "language that would block the Air Force from following through on its threat to eliminate more than 700 jobs at the 132nd Iowa National Guard Fighter Wing based at the Des Moines airport."

The Providence Journal in Rhode Island said: "As part of a $642-billion defense budget, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday rejected an Obama administration proposal to throttle back construction of Virginia-class, fast-attack nuclear submarines, built in Rhode Island and Connecticut by General Dynamics Electric Boat."

The Albuquerque Journal said:"In voting for the defense bill Friday, (Rep. Martin) Heinrich trumpeted his work in staving off a Defense Department recommendation to end the Operationally Responsive Space and Space Test Programs at Kirtland Air Force Base. Heinrich said the bill includes $25 million for the continuation of the ORS and $45 million for the continuation of the STP."

The Lima News in Ohio said: "For the second year in a row, the House has rejected the Administration's short-sighted proposal to end tank production in Lima," (Rep. Jim) Jordan said. "Stopping Abrams tank upgrades would cost far more money in the long run than it could possibly save in the short term. I am pleased that my colleagues agree that the best choice for cost savings is also in the best interest of our national defense."

Utah Rep. Bob Bishop said: "The legislation includes provisions that impact bases and military installations in Utah, including the Ogden Air Logistics Center (ALC). With President Obama singling out the DoD for massive cuts in spending, there is growing pressure from private industry to reduce maintenance workloads traditionally done at military depots, such as Ogden Air Logistics Center. To ensure that the Ogden ALC continues to serve as one of the primary and premier maintenance depots in this country, Congressman Bishop included an amendment that codifies the ongoing role of ALCs with regards to support, maintenance, repair, and refurbishment of equipment for the warfighter, essential weapons systems, and software."

Michigan Rep. Candice Miller said: "For the last few months members of the 107th Fighter Squadron based at Selfridge Air National Guard Base and those who support the Michigan Air National Guard have been very concerned about the Obama Administrations proposed cuts that would have eliminated the 107th along with over 500 jobs. Today I was proud to vote in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 that fully protects not only the 107th Fighter Squadron from cuts, but also Air National Guard Units across the country and which passed with a strong bipartisan vote."

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby said she inserted an amendment to make sure that no unjustified cuts happen at Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, opposing plans to retire or move seven C-130s from the 908th Airlift Wing.

"As your representative, it is my duty to provide oversight for decisions made in Washington that affect our area. Therefore, I offered an amendment to the annual defense bill mandating that the Air Force provide a detailed explanation of the methodology used in its decisions regarding force structure changes to the 908th. The amendment also calls on the Government Accountability Office to determine if the Air Force's rationale makes good sense for both military personnel and taxpayers," she said in her weekly column in the Dothan Eagle.

She said it is "encouraging that our Alabama delegation is willing to stand united in our effort to maintain Alabama's robust defense footprint."

Ohio Rep.  Bob Gibbs said: "Today, I am proud to support a bill that includes a pay increase for our troops, prevents the Obama Administration from drastically increasing military's healthcare fees, and saves the Mansfield's Air National Guard 179th Airlift Wing."

"Forcing the American taxpayers to foot the bill for planes that just rolled off the assembly line only to be sent to the junkyard is unthinkable. That is why I am glad this legislation halts the Air Force's short-sighted and disproportionate cuts to Ohio's Air National Guard. In addition to affecting roughly 800 jobs in Mansfield, eliminating the C-27J program would have impacted domestic relief efforts due to their unmatched ability to be first responders in times of crisis."

Iowa Rep. Steve King said:  "I voted for the 2012 NDAA reauthorization to show my support for our military, and specifically the Iowa Air National Guard."

"President Obama's proposal to scale back the mission of the Iowa Air National Guard with the removal of the F-16s from Des Moines and a KC-135 from Sioux City made no sense from a financial or security stand point. I appreciate the efforts of Governor Branstad and Major General Orr of the Iowa National Guard who helped to galvanize support for Congressional action amongst other Governors and Adjutant Generals from across the county."

"I was pleased to support the NDAA on the floor today to ensure that these aircraft stay in Iowa, that the ranks of Iowa's Air National Guard are not diminished, and that the National Guard continues to remain a vibrant component of our national defense."

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