Pentagon's Proposed Closures, Realignments Target Oregon Military Facilities
Major realignment recommended at PDX Airport Air Guard Station,closures at Umatilla Chemical Depot, Central Point Navy Reserve Center
Washington, DC - The Portland International Airport Air Guard Station was targeted for major realignments and the Umatilla Chemical Depot in eastern Oregon and Navy Reserve Center in Central Point were recommended for closure by the Pentagon today, in a proposal raising strong concerns for U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.). U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld advocated the shutdowns and realignments as part of a list submitted to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission this morning. In a May 6 letter to BRAC Chairman Anthony Principi, Senators Wyden and Smith lobbied for the current role of Oregon's military facilities. (The text of the bipartisan letter can be read at wyden.senate.gov and at gsmith.senate.gov.) "I'm going to have lots of questions to understand how the Pentagon plans to keep Oregonians safe if these changes are put in place," said Wyden. "I'm not going to allow our state to become a sacrifice zone in an era of increased homeland security needs." "Before any changes are made, the Pentagon is going to have to justify its decisions," Smith said. "I am going to review these recommendations closely. I want to ensure that Oregonians will be safe and that our communities receive all the help available to recover economically if this plan goes through." Proposed changes to the Air Guard Station at Portland International Airport include realignment of the 142nd Fighter Wing's F-15 aircraft to stations in Atlantic City, N.J. and New Orleans, La.; the Pentagon list says the wing's expeditionary combat support elements and two combat communications squadrons will remain at Portland. Changes to the 939th Air Refueling Wing include realignment of aircraft and maintenance personnel to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and Forbes Field Air Guard Station in Kansas, with one aircraft sent to backup inventory. Remaining personnel of the 939th, including expeditionary combat support, would be realigned to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The 304th Rescue Squadron at Portland would be realigned to McChord Air Force Base in Washington. The Secretary of Defense also recommended complete closure of the Umatilla Chemical Depot when the facility's existing workload is completed in 2011. The Pentagon also proposes the closure of the Navy Reserve Center in Central Point as part of a nationwide consolidation of Navy Reserve facilities to reduce overhead costs. BRAC Commissioners will now review the Secretary's list of proposed changes at U.S. military facilities and make final recommendations to the President by September 8, 2005. If the President accepts the Commission's list, it will move to Congress for final consideration before the end of the year.