WASHINGTON, D.C. – After Representative Kathy Hochul (NY-26) pressed United States Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief-of-Staff Norton Schwartz on decisions regarding cuts to the Department of Defense budget yesterday, Hochul, along with U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer & Kirsten Gillibrand and Representatives Louise Slaughter (NY-28) and Brian Higgins (NY-27) yesterday afternoon sent a letter to Secretary Donley, inviting him to visit the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) and witness firsthand the value the base serves to the military and U.S. national security, as well as the impact on both the local and state economy.
“When Secretary Donley visits the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, he will see the immense capabilities of this installation, in addition to its ability to take on a new mission,” said Congresswoman Hochul, a Member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Less than three miles away from the U.S./Canada border and the only military installation in Western New York, NFARS is uniquely capable of handling a variety of missions critical to both the security of Western New York, as well as our nation. I urge Secretary Donley to visit this base and see the essential missions and assignments conducted here.”
“There is no better way to get a sense of the high quality workforce that makes Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station hum everyday than walking around and seeing it up close and in person,” said Senator Schumer. “I hope that Secretary Donley will take the time to come up and meet with the extraordinary men and women who work tirelessly to keep our nation safe. I’m confident that he’d come away from that visit with a better understanding of exactly how important this base is to Western New York, and to the country.”
“I am confident that when Secretary Donley visits Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, he will see firsthand the fundamental role it plays in our national defense and emergency response capabilities,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Its closure would undermine protections for the northern border, reduce our state’s preparedness, and devastate the local economy. As the sole military installation in Western New York, we can’t afford to lose Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.”
“This will be a chance for the Secretary to see firsthand just how invaluable the work being done by the 914th and 107th Airlift Wings is not only to Western New York, but to our national security,” said Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. “He’ll see what we in Western New York have long known to be true, that the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is the crown jewel of the Air Force.”
“The future of the Air Force Base is too important to this community to be decided from afar,” said Congressman Higgins. “It is critical for decision makers to be on the ground, here in Western New York, to really appreciate what we have at this facility specifically and to understand the greater significance of the role it plays in the region.”
A copy of the letter Rep. Hochul, Sens. Schumer and Gillibrand, and Reps. Higgins and Slaughter sent to Secretary Donley can be found here.
Over the last month, the Western New York delegation has worked tirelessly to protect the missions taking place at NFARS. Last month, they wrote to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta urging and him to keep NFARS as an active and central player in the nation’s Air Force. More information can be found here.
Earlier this month, the delegation also wrote to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Customs and Border Protection Acting Commissioner David Aguilar urging them to find funding for construction and facilities management, or border infrastructure to construct a new Border Patrol station at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. More information can be found here.
NFARS is compromised of the 914th and 107th Airlift wings, and is one of only two associate wings between the Air Reserve and Air National Guard in the U.S., as well as the only military installation in Western New York. In 2011, NFARS conducted over 1,500 missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan.