Wed, Nov 8, 2023 1:38 PM
By Tom Joyce, The Center Square
U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Democrats from Oregon, announced their chamber passed two community-initiated projects totaling $31 million for the Oregon Air National Guard.
The money was included in the FY24 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies funding bill. The bill passed with strong bipartisan support, according to a press release from Merkley’s office.
The funding will help the Oregon Air National Guard get closer to completing phases 3 and 4 of its project to consolidate training facilities for the 125th Special Tactics Squadron.
“Oregon’s Air National Guard do critical work to help protect the security of Oregon and our nation,” Merkley said. “This funding for the Special Tactics Complex will help make Oregon a West Coast hub for special tactics training and provide Oregon’s Air National Guard members with up-to-date training and resources.”
Wyden said the unit is vital to the country’s national security and that the funding is a positive development.
“Oregon’s Air National Guard and its dedicated service members play an essential role in the defense of our state and country,” Wyden said. “This Oregon unit, so key to national security, fully deserves this federal investment that would modernize its training and ensure it has the resources it needs to be strong and vital in the years ahead.”
The 125th Special Tactics Squadron is an Air National Guard special operations force unit based in Oregon.
Merkley serves on the Appropriations Committee, which wrote the bill.
Both Merkley and Wyden advocated for the $31 million in funding as the Special Tactics Squadron’s current buildings for training are scheduled to be returned to the Port of Portland in 2030.
“The funding will increase operational and energy efficiencies and reduce overall maintenance costs for Oregon National Guard,” the release said.
Merkley expects that once completed, the center will be a West Coast training hub and will be a draw for the 125th Special Tactics Squadron and others seeking specialized training.
“The efforts from Senators Merkley and Wyden and their teams on these projects directly supports our overall mission success and readiness for your local Portland Air National Guard and its service members,” Brig. Gen. David Unruh, Commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, said.
Since the bill passed in the Senate, it now heads to the U.S. House of Representatives. Senators Merkley and Wyden want the House to quickly pass the bill to ensure Oregon and other places around the country promptly receive the funding it includes.