Base Commander Speaks Out On Proposed Cuts

March 7, 2012 Updated Mar 7, 2012 at 9:17 PM EDT

By WKBW News

March 7, 2012 Updated Mar 7, 2012 at 9:17 PM EDT

NIAGARA COUNTY, N.Y. ( WKBW ) It's not a full out closure, but still pretty bad news for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

John Cooper, Vice Chairman of NIMAC stated in a Wednesday afternoon news conference, "We question exactly what process was used to come to this decision, and why Western New York should be asked to take 16% of the hit in manpower for the National Guard nationwide."

The Pentagon wants to cut almost 1,000 jobs in Niagara County, effectively eliminating the Air National Guard's 107th Airlift Wing, one of the two major units at the base.

Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster said, "Anything that effects the employment situation here is a very grave concern for us."

Dyster says the job cuts, a mix of civilian and military ( part time and full time ) could devastate the local economy.

In New York State, more military jobs are being cut in the Falls than anywhere else.

John Cooper, Vice Chairman of the Niagara Military Affairs Council ( NIMAC ) said, "I think we're being asked to do more than should be expected. Several years ago we began to look at cyber missions, ISR missions, which would allow them to move into something different, possibly, if the Department of Defense wanted them to."

NIMAC has been through this before, in 1995 and 2005. Washington wanted to close the base back then. Local supporters fought back, and saved it.

The civilian support group for the base says they are ready to fight, and are planning an all out campaign to save the 107th, by finding the men and women who serve in the unit with those new missions.

Cooper added, "There wee a set of rules, you had to make your case. Those rules are not here now,"

This time, the group will have to convince the Pentagon and Congress.

To further clarify the situation, the Commander of the 107th Airlift Wing, Col. Jim McCready joined Channel 7's John Borsa LIVE for an exclusive interview on Eyewitness News.

Click the video for the full story and the interview.