WFMJ – Mission to Prevent Defense Cuts

WFMJ – Mission to Prevent Defense Cuts

Youngstown, OH 1/23/15 – About ten years ago, it was Operation Soar that saved the Youngstown Air Reserve Station. Now, wheels are in motion to once again keep the station off the government’s radar of cuts.

Those wheels really got turning in Columbus Friday when legislators heard from the commander of the air base.

It’s the so called BRAC Commission that will look at any defense cuts. While there’s been no commission empanelled just yet, the President has called for one. So that’s triggered state and local officials to begin a defense mission of their own.

A listening session was held in Columbus to start the conversation on how to retain Ohio’s defense infrastructure, and prevent future defense cuts. That includes the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

Mike Turner is a republican congressman representing Ohio’s 10th District.

“Throughout our state, we have very important military installations that contribute not only to our national security but to our economy,” Turner said. “The governor, upon calling a meeting of the Congressional Delegation, asked us to take a look at the facilities across the state and begin to work with them on a plan or strategy that would be implemented if an addition BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) Commission is impaneled to look at how the Department of Defense might divest or consolidate facilities.”

If a BRAC Commission would be impaneled, it would not be until 2017.

However, Valley congressman Bill Johnson says the work has to begin now to make sure that facilities like Youngstown’s Air Reserve Station not only remain intact, but become receivers of future defense missions.

“We’re not trying to follow, we’re trying to lead. Ohio has a wealth of capability and technology: the people are here, the infrastructure is here and if we go about this the right way, we can be positioned as Congressman Turner said a little earlier to begin to be the receiving part of the transformation with the Department of Defense,” Congressman Johnson said.

Colonel James Dignan, the Commander of Youngstown’s Air Reserve Station talked about the $110-million a year the base pumps into the local economy, as one of the Valley’s largest employers.