March 15, 2012

New York’s Congressional Delegation Comes Together to Fight for Niagara Air National Guard Base

Officials Endorse Council of Governors Proposal To Add Missions To Base, Retain Jobs

Washington, DC – New York’s entire bipartisan Congressional Delegation came together today to fight to protect Niagara Air National Guard Base from the proposed cuts by the Pentagon. The Air Force has proposed eliminating the National Guard wing in Niagara. The New York officials endorsed the Council of Governors proposal, which would shift some of the funds out of the Air Force into the Air National Guard in order to add missions into some of the bases around the nation, including Niagara, and thereby retain jobs.

The letter below was signed by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Armed Services Committee, and Charles E. Schumer and Representatives Chris Gibson, Bill Owens, and Kathy Hochul, members of the Armed Services Committee and Tim Bishop, Steve Israel, Pete King, Carolyn McCarthy, Gary Ackerman, Gregory Meeks, Joseph Crowley, Jerrold Nadler, Bob Turner, Ed Towns, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velázquez, Michael Grimm, Carolyn Maloney, Charlie Rangel, José Serrano, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, Nan Hayworth, Paul Tonko, Maurice Hinchey, Richard Hanna, Anne Marie Buerkle, Brian Higgins, Louise Slaughter, and Tom Reed. 

The Honorable Michael Donley                                                  General Norton Schwartz

Secretary of the Air Force                                                          Chief of Staff of the Air Force

1400 Defense Pentagon                                                             1400 Defense Pentagon

Washington, DC 20301-1400                                                    Washington, DC 20301-1400 

Dear Secretary Donley and General Schwartz, 

We write to support a proposal offered by the Council of Governors to address the significant cuts in the Air National Guard force structure proposed for Fiscal Year 2013.  This bi-partisan Council established by the President provides an invaluable perspective given that it combines designees from the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security, as well as the Governors. 

Our understanding is that the Council has offered an alternative approach to the Air Force’s recent Personnel Force Structure Adjustment plan.  The Council’s proposed plan would result in approximately three-quarters of a billion dollars in additional savings beyond those achieved in the Air Force plan, while preserving current expertise in our force and decreasing the operational risk by increasing surge capacity. 

We appreciate the difficult task you face of identifying significant savings, while ensuring that the United States Air Force remains the best in the world and ready to defend our country’s military missions.  We want to support you in any way we can, and we truly believe that the Council’s proposal offers an opportunity for greater savings and equity. 

As you know, according to the Comprehensive Review of the Future Role of the Reserve Component prepared in April 2011 by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, “the Guard and Reserve provide these capabilities at lower cost than would be the case were the nation to rely solely on full-time forces while concurrently sustaining larger force structure.” The Council’s proposal would preserve a Total Force approach.  

We urge you to seriously consider the Council’s proposal. We are confident that you will agree that this is not only a reasonable approach, but one that is equitable and in the best interests of the country.