Ohio Senators Work to Save Jobs at Air National Guard Base

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MANSFIELD, Ohio -- Ohio’s senators are rallying together to save hundreds of jobs at the Ohio Air National Guard base in Mansfield.

On Monday afternoon, Senator Rob Portman (R) and Sherrod Brown (D) attended a rally at the 179th Airlift Wing.

Last year, Congress approved a plan to trim $487 billion over the next ten years in order to reduce spending.

Besides slashing more than 5,000 Air National Guard positions, the proposed cuts also included the elimination of the C27-J aircraft program in Mansfield.

In an effort to save nearly 800 jobs at the Mansfield base, Ohio’s senators are working together to petition Air Force brass to reconsider their decision.

“It’s not going to be easy. The Air Force has made their decision but we’re working with the Army who is supportive of this program and we’re also working with our colleagues in Congress to give them the information they need to be able to understand the mission of this plane and the importance of having the budget be reduced in a sensible way,” said Senator Portman.

Also on Monday afternoon, the media got an inside look aboard the C27-J Spartan aircraft.

Master Sergeant Mike Keller said, “It’s used for what we call the 'last tactical mile' to get into forward operating bases to bring supplies.”

Last month, Keller returned from a deployment to Afghanistan only to find out the air national guard base is on the brink of shutting down.

“It’s been rough coming home from all that and hearing they're going to cut a program,” said Keller.

“Stay focused on this mission. We’re going to keep this aircraft,” said Major General Debbie Ashenhurst, Ohio Adjutant General.  “I’m sensitive to what happens in Mansfield because you’re a large portion of what the Ohio National Guard contributes.”

Senator Portman said the base is not only critical for the Mansfield economy, but it also more cost-effective than the proposed alternative.

“This plane can operate on $2,100 an hour. The larger C-130 the Air Force is proposing to replace this is between $6,000-$7,000 an hour,” said Senator Portman. “Tomorrow I’m working with the top people of the Air Force, the chief of staff of the Air Force, General Schwartz, and also the secretary of the Air Force. I met with them previously in private settings. I’m now going to meet with them in a public setting and have the opportunity to publicly discuss their analysis versus some of the numbers that we’re getting and frankly challenge their decision.”

Senator Brown said, “These are some 700-800 people who work out of this base. There are 250 fulltime. One fear I have is if C27 is grounded, we lose a number of people because they aren’t going to drive an extra two hours to get another base.”