Wyden, Smith Praise BRAC Commission Vote to Save 142nd Fighter Wing
Base closing panel's decision to reject Pentagon's proposalfor major realignment at Portland Air Base will boost NW security
Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) today praised the vote of the Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission to reject a Pentagon proposal to gut the 142nd Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard in Portland. Senators Wyden and Smith testified against the proposal at a June 17 hearing, telling the Commission that the plan to reduce the number of alert fighter jets at the air base would seriously compromise Northwest and national security; state leaders and military experts made that case as well. After this week's votes, BRAC Commissioners will 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. "This is a big victory for Oregon, a big victory for the Pacific Northwest, and a big victory for the security of the entire nation. The BRAC Commission clearly took to heart the testimony of Oregonians and defense experts, and agreed that it would be inexcusable to leave our region a security sacrifice zone," said Wyden. "Today's recommendation will help keep Oregonians safe and fulfill our commitment to national security. Our community and local military leadership made an ironclad case to the commission, and this is proof that Oregon's security trumps government streamlining," said Smith. On Wednesday, the Commission voted to close the Umatilla Chemical Depot when the facility's mission is completed, and to close the Navy Reserve Center in Central Point as part of a nationwide consolidation of Navy Reserve facilities to reduce overhead costs.