MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. — A regiment of elected officials, led by state Lt. Gov Jim Cawley, filled an Air Force Reserve hangar Wednesday to say how they’re proactively prepared against potential federal cuts.
“Military operations like the 911th are economic engines providing jobs and prosperity for communities across Pennsylvania,” Cawley said. “They are worth fighting for, and the men and women who work here are worth fighting for.”
Cawley is touring military bases for Reserves across the state, and he visited facilities in Pittsburgh Tuesday with other members of a state Military Community Protection Commission, which he chairs. The commission was created in 2012 to help support the state’s military facilities and monitor them given federal actions.
At the Air Force Reserve’s 911th Airlift Wing next to Pittsburgh International Airport, Cawley said calls by the president and defense secretary for another Base Realignment and Closure round gives an even greater sense of urgency to the commission’s purpose.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has proposed another round of the realignment and closure program for the 2015 federal fiscal year that would begin in 2017. The proposal was included in President Barack Obama’s proposed budget.
In 2012, the Air Force announced it planned to close the 911th within two years, but legislators intervened. The Moon Township base also survived previous closure possibilities in 2005 and 1995.
The 911th base has a base support staff of roughly 300 and traditional Reservist force of some 1,366 that serves one weekend each month and two weeks per year, according to the base.
A Naval Reserve station in North Versailles Township in Allegheny County is also in the process of moving operations to the 911th base, where a new building should be completed by the end of this summer.
Cawley’s tour has also included the 316th Sustainment Command, an Army Reserve headquarter north of the Interstate 376 Business loop, as well as the 171st Pennsylvania Air National Guard, also in Moon.
Cawley said the tour was also not just about jobs. He said the state’s military bases play a key role in a logistics network that supports the military and national security.
Commission leaders at the hangar also said the Reserve facilities were a model blueprint for the state and country.
“We’re here to fight for you,” said state Rep. Harry Readshaw, D-36, Allegheny County, one of the commission’s inaugural appointees. “We’re here to keep you here.”