Stratton Air National Guard Base is home to the 109th Airlift Wing and is located on the east side of the Schenectady County Airport, two miles north of the City of Schenectady and 12 miles west of Albany. The Schenectady County Airport is the largest General Aviation (GA) Airport in the Upper Hudson Region. The airfield is home to an Air National Guard Unit whose based C-130 aircraft supply installations at both the North and South Poles. The base has 39 buildings, amounting to approximately 353,000 square feet and occupies 122.21 acres of land on two holdings leased from Schenectady County. Most of the existing facilities are on the larger 105.86 acre main parcel while a Small Arms Firing Range and Rapid Runway Repair training facility are on the smaller south parcel. There are 526 full time personnel on base with a once a month drill weekend surge to 1,268 personnel.
The Empire State Aerosciences Museum is located at the Airport and acts as a co-sponsor of the Schenectady County Airshow, which is held annually on the first weekend after Labor Day. The Museum occupies nine buildings on twenty-seven acres of land on the western perimeter of the Schenectady County Airport. During World War II the General Electric Company conducted tests on some of the earliest jet engines and electronic surveillance equipment at this site.
Stratton Air National Guard Base is named after conservative Democratic US Representative Sam Stratton, who represented the Albany area. Spurred on by Bella Abzug of New York and Pat Schroeder of Colorado, in 1975 Rep. Samuel Stratton, a senior members of the House Armed Services Committee, put a rider on the House Appropriations bill allowing women in the military.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation: In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Schenectady County Airport AGS by transfering four C-130H aircraft from the 109th Airlift Wing (ANG) to the 189th Airlift Wing (ANG), Little Rock AFB, AR.
The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $3.5M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a cost of $3.3M. Annual recurring savings after implementation would be $0.6M with payback expected in eight years. The net present value of the cost and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $2.4M. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 39 jobs (19 direct jobs and 20 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY, Metropolitan Statistical economic area (less than 0.1 percent). Environmentally, there would be potential impacts to air quality; land use constraints or sensitive resource areas; noise; waste management; water resources; and wetlands that might need to be considered during the implementation of this recommendation.Impacts of costs include $0.04M in costs for environmental compliance and waste management.
Secretary of Defense Jusitification: This recommendation would distribute C-130 force structure to Little Rock (17), which would have higher military value. Adding aircraft to the ANG unit at Little Rock would create a larger, more effective squadron. The LC-130 aircraft (ski-equipped) would remain at Schenectady (117).
Community Concerns: Community representatives indicated that most full time and traditional Guard members will not follow the aircraft to Little Rock AFB, AR. The nearest bases from which Guard members could operate are more than 50 miles away, with some in excess of 100 miles. Additionally, they suggested that removing the C-130H will increase the usage of the ski-mounted LC- 130s and shorten their operable lifespan by approximately 25percent. The community reiterated its challenge to the legality of the proposed realignment, stating that (1) the proposed movement of aircraft is not related to infrastructure restructuring, (2) recommendations to relocate, withdraw, disband, or change the organization of an ANG unit, unless done so for infrastructure rationalization, is inconsistent with the intent of BRAC legislation, and (3) programmatic moves of aircraft are inconsistent with BRAC objectives. Last, community advocates stated that DoD's recommendations diminished the Governor's and DoD's ability to defend the State by reducing the Governor's ability to respond with airlift to high terror threat areas such as New York City, Buffalo and other highly populated northeast centers.
Commission Findings: The Secretary of Defense recommended realigning Schenectady County Airport Air Guard Station, New York by transferring four C-130H aircraft to Little Rock Air Force Base, AR as "part of a larger effort to restructure the C-130 fleet at Little Rock, which has a higher military value. By adding aircraft to the Air National Guard unit in Little Rock, the Department of Defense believes a larger, more effective squadron could be created."
The Commission found the 109th Airlift Wing at Schenectady provides the nation's only air cargo lift capability to polar destinations. The unit flies four C-130s and six LC-130s. Removing the C-130s would eliminate the unit's unique summer mission serving the Arctic and Antarctica. The Commission established a 10-PAA C-130 squadron wing at Schenectady and this finding is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Reserve Laydown plan.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from final selection criterion 1, 2 and 3, as well as from the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission recommends the following:
Realign Schenectady County Airport Air Guard Station (Air Guard Station), NY. Establish 10 Primary Authorized Aircraft (PAA) (L)C-130H at the 109th Airlift Wing (ANG), Schenectady County Airport Air Guard Station, NY.
The Commission found that this change and the recommendation as amended are consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. The full text of this and all Commission recommendations can be found in Appendix Q.
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