Air Force spends millions on special facility only to close it 2 years later

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by Chris Nagus / KMOV

KMOV.com

Posted on May 18, 2012 at 10:38 AM

(KMOV) -- $40 million worth of brand new equipment, including a high tech radar tower and it's already in jeopardy of getting shut down.

Local leaders agree it's a waste and it led News 4 to ask “Is This Why We’re Broke”?
 
U.S. Congressmen Russ Carnahan (D–MO) Todd Akin (R-MO) agree on this one.  They both think the closure is a bad idea. The 121st air control squadron based at Jefferson Barracks was just re-instated in 2010. The unit monitors air traffic control for military operations.

In 2011, the Missouri National Guard issued a press release touting the move, creating new jobs and spending big bucks to invest in the facility including construction of a 77 foot tall radar tower.  $67,000 was spent on concrete for the tower base and the tower itself cost $180,000. 

Now the air force says they're shutting down the facilty in 2013.  “You go back and forth on the military, bigger, smaller, bigger, smaller, you can't make up your mind what you're doing, of course it wastes a lot of money” said Akin.

Carnahan told News 4 “ it just makes no sense economically or in terms of services to flip flop on that now.”
 
The Missouri National Guard declined our interview request.  They did, however, provide us with information on the squadron and told us the situation could be worse: they actually saved $130,000 on the initial project by using Illinois National Guard members as labor to build the radar tower.  But Lawmakers don't see that as justification for pulling the plug so soon after it was built. 

The move also eliminates nearly 200 jobs.
Right now the military cannot say what will happen to the radar tower.  The National Guard says it can be moved to another facility, but how much that will cost is unknown.
 
Congressmen Carnahan and Akin plan to fight it but concede this could be a losing battle.
U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill’s (D-MO) office asked the Air Force directly how much money would be saved if the unit is closed, and if these costs were even considered before deciding to shut it down, but so far they haven't provided an answer.
 
If you have seen something that has you asking “Is This Why We’re Broke”? let News 4’s Chris Nagus know on his KMOV Facebook page.

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