HARRISBURG, Pa., May 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Governor Edward G.
Rendell today announced he will continue working to maintain Willow Grove
as a critical base for military and government flying operations.
The Governor re-confirmed his commitment during a meeting between
Pennsylvania Adjutant General Major General Jessica L. Wright, senior
members of Governor Rendell's staff and the members and staff of the
Horsham Local Redevelopment Authority and Horsham Township.
"Unfortunately, people have misunderstood our plans to save the base.
We are not supporting a civilian or commercial airport," Governor Rendell
said. "We envision Willow Grove as a critical component of our overall
homeland security plans. We have the opportunity to make Willow Grove a
model for the future of Homeland Security."
The meeting included a briefing on the joint interagency base plan and
a wide-ranging discussion of various perspectives on the future of Willow
"When the Air Force last month announced that they supported the joint
interagency base plan and wanted to partner with the commonwealth to make
it a reality, it meant that a key Department of Defense component
recognized the vital nature of this installation," General Wright said.
"The outpouring of support for designating this base for use by the
Pennsylvania National Guard, other DoD components, associated users and
government agencies for national defense, homeland security and emergency
preparedness has been truly outstanding."
"We asked for the Horsham Local Redevelopment Authority's help in
correcting misinformation about the joint interagency base plan," said Art
Stephens, deputy chief of staff for Governor Rendell. "The interagency base
plan does not involve creation of a civilian airport at Willow Grove. We
made it clear once again that commercial passenger and cargo operations
will not be permitted there. Under this plan, Willow Grove will remain a
government installation focusing on providing vital emergency response
capabilities from its key strategic location.
"Support for flying operations by maintaining the runway, clear zones
and associated flight support facilities is an essential element for making
sure that interagency base operations can accomplish their national
security objectives," Stephens said.
"We see today's meeting with the Horsham Local Redevelopment Authority
and Horsham Township as part of a continuing effort to involve local
interests in the development and implementation of the joint interagency
base plan," said General Wright.
The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public
education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing
economic investment to support our communities and businesses. To find out
more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly
newsletter, visit his Web site at: http://www.governor.state.pa.us.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is a summary of Pennsylvania's plan for a joint
interagency base at Willow Grove.
Pennsylvania's Plan for A Joint Interagency
Base at Willow Grove
Goal: The goal of this plan is to maintain the core military
capabilities of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NASJRB) Willow Grove
by designating it for operation as a joint interagency base for use by the
Pennsylvania National Guard and other Department of Defense components,
government agencies, and associated users to perform national defense,
homeland security, and emergency preparedness missions.
Joint Interagency Base Plan: The plan for a joint interagency base at
Willow Grove builds on the BRAC Commission decision requiring a military
enclave for the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve,
sufficient to support flying operations at Willow Grove. The joint
interagency base plan represents the very best use of Willow Grove by
preserving its essential character as a military installation and providing
crucial capabilities for homeland security, defense and emergency
preparedness missions. This approach is similar to the successful Fort
Indiantown Gap model.
Willow Grove's Infrastructure: Located in proximity to Philadelphia,
the National Capital Region and the mid-Atlantic / Northeast Corridor,
Willow Grove occupies a key strategic location to provide for response
capabilities for national, regional and state contingencies and
emergencies. The existing infrastructure at Willow Grove, including its
recently refurbished 8,000 runway, state-of-the-art digital radar, flight
support facilities, hangars, office space, utility infrastructure, power
supply and storage facilities make it indispensable for responding to a
variety of contingencies. Willow Grove's capacity to make a difference in
response to national and state emergencies was clearly shown in the
response to Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana and the Gulf Coast and the
devastating Pennsylvania floods in 2006. With its military-level security
and its ability to be self-sustaining in various scenarios, Willow Grove
has been, and will continue to be, the "go to" base in emergency and
threatened emergency situations.
Flying Operations: Continued support for military and government flying
operations at Willow Grove is a key element of the joint interagency base
plan. It is the Commonwealth's intent that the Pennsylvania Air National
Guard will continue to fly out of Willow Grove. Not only is the existence
of an active operational airfield a major incentive for military and other
government users of the installation, the airfield allows the 111th Fighter
Wing to continue to perform its core function as a military flying
organization. The joint interagency base plan does not include
establishment of a civilian airport at Willow Grove. The Willow Grove
airfield will exist to support military and government flying operations,
and no regularly- scheduled commercial passenger or commercial cargo
operations will be permitted at this airfield. It is expected that,
compared to the past, there will be fewer flying operations into and out of
Willow Grove under the interagency base plan.
Expected Users of the Willow Grove Joint Interagency Base: The 111th
Fighter Wing and U.S. Army Reserve are already slated to remain at Willow
Grove as directed by BRAC law. The base is expected to grow with the
addition of Army National Guard units. The Pennsylvania Army Guard's 56th
Stryker Brigade HQ will initially add an additional 500 Army National Guard
soldiers to the total force at Willow Grove. The increase of the overall
National Guard force at the Willow Grove joint interagency base will
provide the Governor of Pennsylvania more manpower and capabilities to
contend with national or state emergencies. Under such provisions, Willow
Grove could provide approximately 4,000 military personnel from the Army
and Air National Guard, along with Army Reserves.
In addition, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is actively pursuing
other interagency options that will effectively transform Willow Grove into
an interagency homeland security and readiness center, with Army Reserve
and Army/Air National Guard units as its primary tenants. Willow Grove will
function as an important command center for PEMA and FEMA and will provide
Continuity of Operations sites for numerous government agencies. Willow
Grove is uniquely positioned to provide mobilization and staging, medical
support, and other related functions.
Already, the Commonwealth has received a significant number of
expressions of interest from the following agencies interested in basing
operations at Willow Grove:
-- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
-- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
-- Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA)
-- Civil Air Patrol (CAP)
-- US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
-- Defense Contract Management Agency's Industrial Analysis
-- Pennsylvania Southeastern Regional Counter terrorism Task
Force (PA SERCTTF)
-- Defense Logistics Agency (DLA)
-- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
-- Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
-- DOD Defense Criminal Investigative Service
-- Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General (DoD-IG)
-- Department of Labor (DOL)
-- Health and Human Services (HHS)
-- U.S. Department of Justice
The joint interagency base plan is consistent with the recently issued
National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directives setting
forth the National Continuity Policy. The base will extend the existing
defense operations to add homeland security and emergency response elements
as dictated by the National Response Plan to include:
-- Establishing Willow Grove JIB as an equipment storage location to meet
the needs of the Emergency Support Functions (ESF's) as it relates to
the National Response Plan (NRP).
-- Establishing a Civil Support Team and a Chemical, Biological,
Radiological, Nuclear Or High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force
-- The interagency base plan also envisions use of Willow Grove as a
convenient, accessible conference/training center for military and
other government users focusing on homeland security and emergency
preparedness programs for first responders, combat support elements and
The joint interagency base plan is designed to accommodate possible
non- government users of the installation provided their functions are
compatible with, and ancillary to, the base's primary military and
government missions. Such users may include medical facilities (government
and non-government), military/government aircraft maintenance and repair,
and related business uses.
Fiscal Considerations: The Commonwealth is confident that it can
oversee operations of the joint interagency base at Willow Grove in a
fiscally responsible and cost-effective manner. The overall base operating
support costs for the proposed joint interagency base at Willow Grove are
estimated to be in the range of $12 to $18 million per year. The
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is willing to assume oversight responsibility
for these costs as part of the federal/state partnership. It is expected
that all or nearly all of these costs will be borne by the DoD components,
government agencies and non-governmental organizations that sublease or
license use of facilities at Willow Grove. The fiscal soundness of the plan
is based on payments by tenants for use of land and facilities. This plan
does not depend on airport or runway or ramp user fees for transient
civilian air operations of any kind.
Environmental Considerations: The joint interagency base plan will not
result in a major change of use of the installation. It will continue to
operate as a government installation for use by DoD components and other
government agencies. In 1995, Willow Grove was placed on the National
Priority List (NPL) of locations that warrant further investigation for
hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants. The Navy has prepared an
environmental condition of property report for Willow Grove that lists 10
installation restoration program (IRP) sites, for which remediation is
The Willow Grove Joint Interagency Base Will:
-- Provide essential capabilities to perform homeland security, national
defense and emergency preparedness missions.
-- Maintain the 8,000 foot runway, clear zones and associated flight-
support facilities at Willow Grove so that military and other
government flying operations can continue at the site.
-- Build on the success of the installation and its units and personnel in
responding to past emergencies and contingencies by providing a secure,
self-sustaining installation in a key strategic location.
-- Support the local economy by keeping a robust military and government
presence at Willow Grove for the foreseeable future.
-- Be a model homeland security hub and conference and training center
leveraging its jointness to save costs, improve efficiency and provide
for effective mission accomplishment.
-- Be home to the 111th Fighter Wing, the 56th Stryker Brigade
Headquarters, several Army Reserve units and numerous government
agencies providing an important measure of local and regional security
-- Reuse existing government facilities for important governmental
functions and activities thereby saving taxpayer money and promoting
the vital purposes of the installation.
The Willow Grove Joint Interagency Base Will NOT:
-- Permit regularly-scheduled commercial passenger or commercial cargo
-- Be converted into a civilian airport.
-- Abandon the core military capabilities of the Willow Grove
installation, including the runway.
-- Result in increased flying operations or vehicular traffic congestion.
-- Be allowed to languish for years or fall into disrepair.
The Way Ahead: Since the Willow Grove Joint Interagency Base maintains
the installation for use by DoD components and other government agencies, a
military transfer of the property is a proper mechanism to accomplish this
goal. The Congress is considering legislation to direct this military
transfer. Local interests will continue to have significant input into this
process within the context of maintaining the core operational capabilities
of the base. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is willing to partner with
the federal government and local interests to ensure that the core
operational capabilities are maintained to support homeland security,
national defense, and emergency preparedness missions. The joint
interagency base plan is the right approach for our nation, our state and
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor