With renewed talk of BRAC, congressmen say work done to expand mission will bolster WNY base
Congressmembers Brian Higgins and Chris Collins announced plans to work jointly to defend the future of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS). This comes as select members on both sides of the aisle in both the House of Representatives and Senate have expressed interest in beginning a new base realignment and closure (BRAC) round, a process that threatens the future of military bases across the country, including the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station in Western New York.
"Over the last several years, we've worked together in coordination with members of the Niagara Military Affairs Council to expand the mission at the base and see that it meets the needs of today and tomorrow's military," Higgins said. "This groundwork puts us in a better place than we were just a few years ago, still we will continue to be vigilant in defending the long-term sustainability of the Niagara Falls Reserve Station."
"With the help of Congressman Higgins and local stakeholders, we have greatly improved and expanded the capabilities of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station," Collins said. "However, we must remain committed to doing whatever is necessary to keep the air base here in Western New York. I will continue to fight for the best interests of the air base and to preserve one of Western New York's greatest economic assets."
Higgins and Collins point to joint efforts in recent years that have expanded the mission and better positioned the base for longevity should a BRAC be implemented:
•Next week, NFARS will welcome its first KC-135 taker - aircraft that allows the base to return to its refueling mission, as the military transitions away from use of the aging C-130 aircraft.
•$7.7 million, secured in 2015, funded construction of the remotely piloted aircraft facility at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
The Department of Defense, in the proposed budget for 2016, requested a new BRAC round in 2017. Language included by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act prohibited a BRAC round in 2017. However, the process could certainly be reintroduced next year.
The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station was among the sites listed on the closure list during the last round of BRAC in 2005.
According to a 2012 report, the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has a total economic impact of more than $200 million annually and supports close to 3,300 Western New York jobs.