« Five Proposals to Control Skyrocketing Health Care Costs: Tell us Your Opinion! | Home Page | A Simple Choice: Oregonians or Tax Giveaways? »

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
TrackBacks (0) | Comments (3 so far)
Permalink: Help Fight Closure of Oregon's only National Guard Base


Let me see: I am summoned to oppose the closing sof some small part of our bloated military-industrial complex because the closure is proposed by war hawks?

Oh, I forgot, we have to keep our jets flying to save us from terrorists with boxcutters.

Man, you really lost me on this one.

Close the friggin' base, and celebrate an unalloyed bit of good news!

Posted by: Michael Meo | Jun 14, 2005 8:19:40 PM

From what I understand from Rep. Hansen, and I believe he explains very clearly in his post, the closing of the Portland base is not going to result in military budget cuts. It's a re-allocation of military resources forced upon the government because of the out of control mess in Iraq.

That seems to put your logic in question since we aren't talking about a smaller military. We are talking about leaving the entire state of Oregon less protected in order to fight a horribly planned Middle Eastern war.

Posted by: Jon Isaacs | Jun 15, 2005 3:34:33 PM

Mr. Meo,

First, and most pertinent to your point, closing the Portland Base in fact spends MORE money. The Department of Defense’s (DOD) proposal simply moves these planes to active duty bases, which are actually more costly than guard bases. So, if you are simply concerned with the financial analysis, this move does not stand up. Here’s some information: including all costs associated with flying planes from intelligence to food to gas, the cost per flying hour for an active duty base to fly F-15s is $10,327. At the 142nd Fighter Wing (Portland Air National Guard), the cost is $8,213. The 142nd is 20% MORE efficient than the active duty bases to which these planes will go.

Regarding homeland security, the Portland Air National Guard Base is the ONLY base that covers Oregon and Washington. I can think of quite a few events that occur in Seattle that would spur terrorist attacks – the WTO conferences for example. Intelligence reports consistently reveal Al Queda and its franchise terrorist cells continuing to probe our aviation resources as sources of effective weaponry. Fully loaded jets bound for Asia are perfect vehicles for weaponry and will be used as such if we do not take care. On 9/11, jets in from the D.C. Air National Guard were flying within minutes of the first attack and were ready to shoot down the plane from Pennsylvania if it came near the U.S. Capitol.

Terrorists exploit the easiest weaknesses. Closing this base will remove security for the entire Northwest and make Oregon and Washington easy targets for new attacks.

Another important point: state emergencies. Gov. Kulongoski will lose 650 national guardsmen to assist with wild fires, floods, earthquake / volcanic activity, and airport security. As the forest fires season draws near, losing guardsmen in Iraq and elsewhere overseas, coupled with the closure of this base, will severely reduce our capability to stop fires from burning vast amounts of forest or consuming communities.

Guard members are the cheapest form of military strength, which is well understood by the DOD. This Base Realignment and Closure decision was not based on costs or homeland security. It was designed to make our military ready to fight more wars overseas while neglecting the primary mission of the U.S. military, homeland security.

Guardsmen also provide services to the state that others are not equipped to handle. Drawing on the Montana, Idaho, Washington and California National Guard to fight fires in Oregon will be a tough sell when those states are also facing forest destruction. Oregon will have to spend precious dollars to take guardsmen from North Carolina or Florida to fight these fires, assuming they are not experiencing hurricanes and floods.

Closing this base would save no money and would make Oregon less safe from both terrorists and natural disasters.

Posted by: Jacquelyn Jeys | Jun 15, 2005 3:58:03 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.