Contact Information

  • Governor's Office, 360-902-4111

  • Alt Contact:  Military Department, Major Phil Osterli, 253-512-8989

Governor Gregoire Announces Resolution to BRAC Lawsuit

For Immediate Release: September 27, 2007

Fairchild Air Force Base will keep emergency aircraft following unprecedented agreement with the US Air Force

OLYMPIA – Governor Chris Gregoire today announced that some aircraft used to respond to local, state, regional and national emergencies will continue to be available, according to an agreement with the Air Force stemming from a 2005 lawsuit. Acting in her capacity as the State Commander-In-Chief, Governor Gregoire in September 2005 legally challenged a federal decision to move out of state several aircraft currently at Fairchild Air Force Base.

“This partnership will help to continue to protect the safety of Washington citizens in Eastern Washington, across the state and the region,” said Governor Gregoire. “This is an unprecedented agreement between our National Guard and the Air Force.”

In the 2005 lawsuit, Governor Gregoire challenged the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission’s decisions transferring eight KC-135R tankers from the Washington Air National Guard’s 141st Air Refueling Wing (141 ARW) based at Fairchild AFB in Spokane, WA.

The recommendation by the BRAC Commission would have stripped the Governor of emergency access to KC-135R aircraft to respond to local, state, regional and national emergencies. Governor Gregoire in 2005 used these aircraft to transport more than 1,200 Guard service members and tons of emergency equipment from the Pacific Northwest to Gulf Coast communities ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

“Washington is proud to host two major Air Force installations, at McChord and Fairchild,” said Governor Gregoire, who worked closely with Adjutant General Timothy Lowenberg to negotiate the settlement. “This agreement reinforces our strategic partnership.”

Under the settlement, the Washington Air Guard wing will share active duty airplanes with the Air Force's Air Mobility Command, and the Governor will have ready access to those tankers to support state requirements during emergencies. Additionally, the currently assigned ground equipment that was to move as result of the BRAC recommendations will remain at Fairchild.

The agreements specify that:

  • The Air Force will provide training aircraft each day for execution of 141st ARW aircrew training;

  • Additional aircraft will be provided to the 141st to support National Guard Bureau and State missions;

  • The Governor will have immediate access to aircraft and ground support equipment in the event she needs to activate the National Guard to respond to local, state, regional or national emergencies; and

  • That, if Fairchild AFB-based aircraft are not available for short notice State purposes, the Washington Adjutant General and the Air Mobility Command Commander will work together to meet the State requirements.