Help Fight Closure of Oregon's only National Guard Base
Representative Gary Hansen is a fourth term legislator representing North Portland.
When I learned that the Bush Administration wanted to mothball the Oregon Air National Guard Base in Portland, I wanted to sympathize with Pentagon deficit hawks trying to save some bucks.
But after I began asking questions, I didn’t find any deficit hawks -- only foreign policy hawks -- wanting to shift Portland’s resources to better fight Middle Eastern oil wars.
I conferred with the Oregon Air Guard officials, and was alarmed to learn that the Pentagon wanted to move the 142nd Fighter Wing and 939th Air Refueling Wing to bases in Louisiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Kansas for easier mobilization to fight in Iraqi. And furthermore, you don’t have to be Gen. Wesley Clark to see that denuding the Portland air base reduces the Pacific Northwest’s defenses to a tattered fig leaf.
The 142nd provides the only fighters with air-to-air capability to defend American skies from the California to Canadian borders. McChord Air Force Base, Whidbey Island Air Station and Kingsley Air National Guard Base do not provide that. Only the Portland Air National Guard Base does –until now.
Terrorists are wickedly creative at finding at gaps in defense plans. The Northwest has more holes than coverage. Most airline routes from Asia to North America traverse over lightly guarded West Coast air space. UPS, Federal Express-type private flights are vulnerable to hijacking. Military intelligence reveals terrorist seeking to obtain Cruise missiles, to potentially use from offshore cargo ships to land targets. A missile launched in international waters 200 miles off the Oregon coast would hit downtown Portland long before jets from the nearest major air base in Fresno – under the Bush proposal – could respond.
Bush’s recommendation to reduce the number of jets that defend the Pacific Northwest from 15 planes – to just two – is appalling. Ron Wyden correctly called the Northwest a “zone of sacrifice” under the Bush plan.
I’ve mobilized the Oregon House of Representatives leadership to this issue and they will be sending their protests to the federal Base Relocation and Closure Commission when it meets in Portland on Friday, June 17. The BRAC will make its recommendation to Congress in September.
Please register your discontent to them by emailing to www.brac.gov/feedback/aspx or writing: BRAC, The Polk Building, suite 600 & 625, 2521 South Clark St., Arlington, VA.
June 14, 2005 by Gary Hansen
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