ORANG footprint at PDX ‘right sized’ to focus funding on military needs

  • Published
  • By Capt. Angela Walz
  • 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Oregon Air National Guard (ORANG) officials from the 142nd Fighter Wing and the Port of Portland held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Portland International Airport (PDX) today at 1:00 p.m to signify the ORANG's return of 27 acres, 4 buildings and 52 percent of the west ramp of PDX to the Port of Portland.

Today's ceremony was the result of an historic 50-year lease signed in January 2013 that allows the 142nd Fighter Wing to continue to operate from PDX. As part of the lease agreement, the ORANG will reduce their existing 240 acres of land to 195 acres over the next 20 years. If the Port of Portland chooses to expand, or add a third runway, the size of the base would further reduce to 128 acres, but no changes would take place until 2043.

Col. Paul. T. Fitzgerald, 142nd Fighter Wing Commander, addressed the audience at today's ceremony to explain how downsizing the base is better for the military mission here: "A mindset of 'more is better' is actually missing both the truth and the opportunity in this circumstance. In today's fiscal environment, if we want to ensure combat capability for the United States and if we want the governor to have access to that capability in times of need, we need to be absolutely 100 percent efficient with every dollar we get. That includes real property."

The Oregon National Guard has leased land from the Port of Portland since 1949, and has operated out of Portland for more than 70 years. The current lease allows the 142nd Fighter Wing to continue their Aerospace Control Alert mission, which maintains security over the Pacific Northwest.

There are nearly 1,400 personnel headquartered at the Portland Air National Guard Base. The 142nd Fighter Wing patrols the airspace from the Canadian border to central California as part of its Aerospace Control Alert mission. Since September 11, 2001, the 142nd Fighter Wing has flown more than 37,000 hours to ensure the safety of the Pacific Northwestern skies and entire country.

"This day brings us one step closer to a stronger, more secure future," said Col. Fitzgerald. "Our facilities and ramp space are now 'right sized' with our National Guard mission.  That means our maintenance and facility modernization funds can be focused to where we need them. We don't have to stretch those funds out to an infrastructure that is in excess of our needs. All this translates into combat power when America calls. The Oregon Air National Guard is always ready, always there," he said.