Louisiana Congressional Delegation acts in face of proposed cut of 259th ATC

England Airpark: April 10, 2012

SENDS LETTER OF CONCERN AND QUESTIONS TO SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE AND SECRETARY OF THE ARMY

Senators Landrieu, Vitter and Congressman Alexander and Fleming signed joint letters to the Secretary of the Air Force and Secretary of the Army expressing concern and questions regarding the proposed elimination of the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron based at England Airpark.

The elected officials expressed the following in the letter:

They further stated:

Each Congressional office has worked diligently since the announcement to understand the decision making process used by the Air Force.  At the instruction of the Senators and Representatives, congressional staff have called meetings, conducted research and worked at building coalitions with the aim of supporting Central Louisiana’s goal of saving the 259 Air Traffic Control Squadron.

Letters are attached. CODEL Letter #1  CODEL Letter #2

As to Congressional support:

United States Senator Landrieu:

"I believe the Air Force’s recommended National Guard cuts were made without adequate due diligence. It is important that our military leaders understand the needs of our installations in Louisiana in conjunction with the needs of our local community. Not only does this unit provide critical support at England Airpark, it also provides air traffic control for military airlift at Alexandria International Airport. It is crucial that our armed services have the necessary support to carry out their missions, and that there are adequate personnel to keep air traffic in central Louisiana moving safely and efficiently."

United States Senator Vitter:

"As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I’ve been focused on making sure the Army and Air Force are consulting with one another on what’s best for national security and I’ll keep working to make sure Louisiana’s top notch facilities and operations remain a viable part,"

Jon Grafton, Executive Director, England Airpark:

"We are very appreciative of the way Senator Landrieu, Senator Vitter and Congressman Alexander have rallied to the defense of the 259th.  Our representatives have been our partners for years in the redevelopment of England Airpark and Ft. Polk.  Senator Landrieu, Senator Vitter and Congressman Alexander have always been supportive of our Louisiana National Guard and its’ Citizen Soldiers."

History:

In March, the United States Air Force announced the proposed disbanding of the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron.  The announcement by the United States Air Force came without consultation with Senators Landrieu, Vitter or Congressman Alexander.  Further, the announcement came without the input of the Louisiana National Guard.

The 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron is based at England Airpark.  The 259th controls the movement of all aircraft in the airspace surrounding Alexandria International Airport (AEX).  The unit mans the air traffic control tower at AEX while also providing radar, navigation aide and communication support.  The unit handles fixed wing aircraft from Cessna’s to C5/747; also full range of civilian and military helicopter activity.  The unit is a member of the Louisiana National Guard.  There are 110 persons in this unit.  The 259 has deployed overseas on a number of occasions along with performing disaster relief duty in the United States.  To date, the Squadron has safely deployed over 500,000 personnel, 170,000 tons of military cargo as well as supported numerous flag officers, foreign political and military visits in direct support of Ft. Polk.

Further information will be forthcoming regarding Central Louisiana’s efforts to save the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron.  We ask the Central Louisiana media to widely distribute this information so that our citizens have a chance to support this effort.

The England Authority is a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana which owns and manages England Airpark, the former England Air Force Base.  England Airpark includes Alexandria International Airport and multiple conversion projects, for which it has been nationally recognized as the premier model for reuse and development of closed military bases.

For more information contact:

Jon Grafton, Executive Director
England Airpark
318-792-6063

LTC Micheal Kazmierzak
Louisiana National Guard
504-278-8286

Senator Mary Landrieu
202-224-5824

Senator David Vitter
202-224-4623

Jamie Hanks
Congressman Rodney Alexander
202-225-8490