News Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Monday, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to provide immediate answers to reports that Fairchild Air Force Base will lose as many as 260 jobs. While the possible cuts reported by Spokane media last week are part of anticipated force restructuring throughout the Air Force, the senators criticized the lack of details provided by the Defense Department as well as the Pentagon’s failure to notify communities surrounding Fairchild, including Spokane, and the Washington Congressional delegation of the plan’s details.



“Fairchild Air Force Base is not only a critical national military asset, but an important part of the Spokane community. The men and women of Fairchild and their families are a positive presence in our economy, our schools, and the livelihood of our entire region,” Murray said. “Just as they work to protect us everyday, we, too, need to ensure the protection of our workforce at Fairchild—and the best way to do that is to involve them, our communities and members of Congress in the decision-making process.”



“The men and women who serve at Fairchild play a critical role in protecting our national security, and are also valued community members,” said Cantwell. “Given the importance of Fairchild for our nation, state, and the Inland Empire, the Defense Department’s failure to disclose important details to the public and Congress about Fairchild personnel reductions is concerning.”



In a letter sent Monday to Secretary Rumsfeld, Murray and Cantwell criticized the lack of details on the Fairchild personnel reductions and asked for clarification on the military’s plans. Specifically, the senators asked for the number of positions slated for elimination and if there would be any additional cuts in the future. They also requested details on the Defense Department’s policy for providing public and Congressional notification in advance of personnel reductions like those at Fairchild.



“While we support providing the right level and mix of personnel to meet Fairchild’s present and future missions, there has not been adequate notification on this recent round of Fairchild personnel reductions,” the senators wrote. “We believe prior notification of the recent personnel reduction would have provided appropriate and important clarity to affected personnel, their families, surrounding communities, and the Congress.”



In their letter, the senators also highlighted the value of the men and women who support Fairchild’s multiple missions. Fairchild-based personnel support valuable survival training and air refueling capabilities, and have aided in numerous civil emergencies, including wildfires and floods.



The text of the letter to Secretary Rumsfeld follows:





September 25, 2006





The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
The Pentagon, Room 3E880
Washington, DC 20301-1000





Dear Secretary Rumsfeld,



We are writing to request further clarification on reported job reductions at Fairchild Air Force Base (AFB). Last week, media outlets reported that Fairchild AFB will lose some 260 jobs as part of larger restructuring efforts within the Air Force. While we understand the Air Force has been planning to reduce its size as part of larger “force shaping” efforts, the lack of public and congressional notification on important details associated with the layoffs is troubling to us and communities surrounding Fairchild AFB.



We are very proud of the civilian and military workforce at Fairchild Air Force Base. Fairchild’s hardworking men and women support multiple critical national defense and homeland security missions. The refueling tankers of the 92nd and 141st Air Refueling wings at Fairchild are vital assets in the rapid projection of forces throughout the region, nation, and world. As you know, Fairchild’s tankers continue to play an important role in ongoing military operations around the world. Additionally, the 336th Training Group of the U.S. Air Force Survival School, based at Fairchild, provides critical training capabilities to the Air Force and other branches of the armed services. The group provides airmen with necessary survival training including combat and water survival, underwater egress, and survival leadership.



For decades, the State of Washington and the communities that surround Fairchild AFB, including the City of Spokane, have embraced the base as part of the community. We understand that the mission of the Air Force generally, and Fairchild specifically, will continue to evolve. While we support providing the right level and mix of personnel to meet Fairchild’s present and future missions, there has not been adequate notification on this recent round of Fairchild personnel reductions. We believe prior notification of the recent personnel reduction would have provided appropriate and important clarity to affected personnel, their families, surrounding communities, and the Congress. With that in mind, please respond to the following questions:

  • Can you confirm how many positions will be reduced at Fairchild Air Force Base as a result of “force shaping” activities?


  • Which Fairchild units will have positions reduced? What positions will be reduced at Fairchild?


  • When will the cuts take place?


  • Will there be additional cuts at Fairchild as a result of “force shaping?”


  • How many cuts will be made to the civilian and military workforce at Fairchild?


  • Will there be involuntary job reductions as a result of the cuts?


  • What is Department of Defense policy for providing public and congressional notification on personnel reductions like those at Fairchild?


Given the importance of Fairchild’s mission, the impact on the State of Washington, and the sense of uncertainty in the communities surrounding Fairchild, we respectfully request a timely response to these questions. Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter.



Sincerely,



Senator Patty Murray
Senator Maria Cantwell