April 04, 2007

Wyden Protests Advanced Closure of the 939th Air Refueling Wing "Pulling the rug out from underneath these brave reservists is unfair"

Washington, D.C. - Protesting the Air Force Reserve Command's announcement today that it is accelerating the closure of the 939th Air Refueling Wing, based in Portland, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden sent the following letter to Air Force Reserve Chief, Lieutenant General John A. Bradley:February 2, 2007Lieutenant General John A. BradleyChief, Air Force Reserve 1150 Air Force PentagonRoom 4E160Washington, DC 20030-1150Dear Lt. Gen. Bradley:I am writing to formally protest your announcement that the Air Force Reserve is greatly accelerating the closure of the 939th Air Refueling Wing, specifically the Wing's Expeditionary Combat Support (ECS) Squadron.As you know, I opposed the Pentagon's proposal to close the 939th from the very beginning and testified against it before the Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission. The closure was a poor fiscal decision which scrapped a recent $60 million infrastructure investment and disrupted the lives of hundreds of reservists.Now that the decision has been made to close the 939th, it is incumbent upon all of us to make the transition as easy as possible on the Wing's reservists and civilian workers. Pulling the rug out from underneath these brave reservists by suddenly accelerating the closure by two years is unfair. Only last week, the Air Force Reserve Command awarded the 939th an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for 2006. Now the outstanding men and women of the Wing must scramble to make decisions about where they can live, work and train.In addition, the Oregon National Guard, which is one of the few in-state transfer options for these reservists, is already full. The Guard has already absorbed 62 men and women from the Wing and is now at more than 100-percent manning. Without the ability to transfer to the Guard, the reservists of the 939th have very limited options for staying in the Portland area.I request that the Air Reserve Command return to its original plan to close the 939th ECS Squadron in 2010 while immediately providing all possible job placement support and personnel benefits to the men and women of the 939th.Thank you very much for your consideration of this issue.Sincerely,Ron WydenUnited States Senate