FINDLAY TOWNSHIP(KDKA) — There was a change of command for the 171st Air Refueling Wing Sunday morning.
The ceremony was held at the base in Findlay Township as Col. Anthony J. Carrelli took over as the new commander. Several military dignitaries attended the ceremony.
“Very excited to be here, and it’s a great privilege to be a part of the team,” said Col. Carrelli. “It was named the best unit in the guard. They just recently received an outstanding Air Force Unit Award. And I’m not new to the Pennsylvania Guard; so, I’ve known about the 171st for quite some time, and they’ve always been a top unit.”
Col. Carrelli had been serving as the Wing Commander of the 111th Fighter Wing near Philadelphia.
However, during the ceremony, the talk quickly turned to the plans to close the 911th Airlift Wing and to make cuts to the 171st Refueling Wing.
Everyone at the ceremony vowed to fight the budget cuts.
For the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way, there can never be enough backup. So, when civilians call for budget cuts, the military almost always resists.
“The assumption going in is that there’s less need for all this capability,” said Maj. Gen. Wesley Craig, the Pa. Adjutant General. “As a military person you find that you always need more. You always want to have some redundancy.”
At stake are more than 300 jobs at the 911th Airlift Wing, and a 25 percent cutback for the 171st Refueling Wing. The congressman for that area says the cuts don’t make sense.
“When they talk about reducing the number of planes for the number one ranked air guard refueling wing unit in the nation, it just doesn’t make sense,” said U.S. Congressman Tim Murphy.
The military folks say it’s cheaper to use National Guard and Reserve units at the 911th and the 171st than using a full-time military.
“In constrained times why would you not increase the size of the Guard and Reserve and decrease the size of the active component?” said Murphy.
The proposed military budget cuts may require Congressional approval.
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