U.S. Rep. Timothy Ryan urged Air Force leaders to consider a reversal of downsizing trends at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and even to increase its complement of C-130 cargo aircraft.
In written testimony sent to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, Ryan, of Niles, D-13th, said it would be more efficient to have 16 C-130 cargo planes at YARS, and that the increase in the number of aircraft would benefit both the Air Force and national security.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, in a letter sent to NCSAF to coincide with the Commission’s tour of Air Force installations around the country, including those in Ohio this week, touted the special value of YARS, which is home to the 910th Airlift Wing and Marine Corps and Navy reserve contingents.
The commission will submit a report to Congress and President Obama on Feb. 1 with its recommendations on the future structure of the Air Force.
In his letter, Portman, R-Ohio, highlighted the work done at YARS.
“We are proud to be home to the 910th Airlift Wing stationed at Youngs-town Air Reserve Station, which boasts the Defense Department’s only full- time, fixed-wing aerial spray unit; and utilizes Ohio’s strategic location to conduct aerial mosquito spraying throughout the Midwest and South when not fulfilling other domestic and overseas airlift missions,” he said.
Broadening his scope, Portman testified that “Ohio’s Air Force installations leverage world-class capabilities and resources and Ohio’s favorable geographic location contributes significantly to an array of national security and civil support missions.”
“The men and women of the Department of the Air Force in Ohio exemplify the core values of the Air Force and have a proven track record of increasing readiness and providing valuable capabilities, while prioritizing efficiency and cost effectiveness,” Portman said.
Ryan testified that as a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and representative of an Air Force installation, he “admires and shares” the Commission’s deeply held concern for the well-being of the Air Force.
And, though he understands that the Air Force is being forced to make tough decisions about force structure, said he strongly supports the “unique capabilities and opportunities” at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and urged the Commission to consider a reversal of current downsizing trends at YARS.
He noted that in fiscal year 2011, the Air Force Reserve directed YARS to loan C-130s to Little Rock Air Force Base to support the AFRC training mission. However, those two aircraft remained part of the YARS inventory for manning purposes.
The Air Force now plans to not only remove these two loaned aircraft from YARS’s books, but also transfer an additional aircraft out of YARS and convert one of the remaining nine aircraft to backup aircraft inventory, taking YARS from an authorized force of 12 aircraft to eight, Ryan said.
He said he believes the loss of four aircraft would negatively impact man- power authorizations at YARS, and is concerned about the operational impact of the Air Force’s force structure plan at YARS, including the 910th’s unique capability of being DOD’s only large area fixed-wing aerial spray unit.
In addition to testimony by elected officials, members of the 910th were scheduled Tuesday to provide statements to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force at a hearing in Columbus. Also, the 910th team was scheduled today to meet with members of the commission as they tour Mansfield-Lahm Air National Guard Base and highlight the capabilities of the 910th and YARS, officials said.