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Another Voice: Advocacy for Niagara Falls air base is worth the effort

By John A. Cooper Sr.

Local support and advocacy for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station has shown incredible success in the past 23 years.

It was Gen. George C. Marshall who said: “It is not enough to fight. It is the spirit which we bring to the fight that decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory.”

These past few years are a testament to the Niagara Military Affairs Council’s spirit, morale and continued support of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Over 23 years we have seen much success in federal investment and the jobs that it brings to our community.

Due to the conversion to new missions for the 914th Air Refueling Wing and the 107th Attack Wing, we have seen more than $250 million of investment at the NFARS in the last couple of years. The installation continues to employ 3,000 men and women with an annual economic impact to Western New York of more than $150 million.

It’s a healthy exercise to look back to see how we got to this point since the previous threats of closure in 1995 and 2005. The year 2012 will go down in history as a pivotal year for the station as the Air Force announced its “Force Structure Adjustment.”

Immediate action was required for us to assist our state and federal officials and the Air Force to find a new mission for the then 107th Airlift Wing. The 107th had been eliminated in the 2013 defense budget and the Air Force’s future plans. Fortunately, the process ended with a new enduring mission for the now 107th Attack Wing.

Long-term action was also required as the future of the 914th Airlift Wing C-130 mission was in jeopardy. Again, working with our state and federal officials and the Air Force, we were able to advocate over the next few years for the refueling mission that they have today.

Our mantra had become “enduring missions with a future” and the result became new missions, new opportunities and a hopeful future for our Air Base.

This coming year we will continue to advocate for the Air Reserve station at all levels of government and the Air Force with the same spirit and morale as always. There are additional upgrades required at the installation that will allow for the possible growth of both wings. If we have learned anything as a community, it is that continued advocacy for our air base is worth the investment and effort.

Many thanks to our community and municipalities from which we continue to receive support. I know of no other group of volunteers that has had such an impact on our Western New York community than NIMAC. We appreciate everyone’s support as we continue to advocate for the men and women of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

John A. Cooper Sr. is chairman of the Niagara Military Affairs Council.

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