WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) along with Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today announced that they have introduced legislation that would prevent the Navy from implementing its plan to transfer the VAQ-209 Navy Reserve Electronic Attack Squadron from Joint Base Andrews in Prince George’s County, Maryland to Washington State. The Navy’s relocation proposal has not received Congressional oversight or approval and could leave the National Capital Region vulnerable to an electronic warfare attack.
“Moving critical resources out of the National Capital Region and clear across country makes little sense at a time when we are trying to maximize resources while increasing our ability to defend against electronic warfare,” said Senator Cardin. “Taxpayers should not be asked to pay millions of dollars for a move that would harm national security, harm our local community, and put our national security at risk.”
“I am strongly opposed to the Navy’s plan to relocate the electronic attack squadron from Joint Base Andrews,” Senator Mikulski said. “Keeping this unique squadron home-based here in Maryland is critical to the safety and security of the United States. Maryland is uniquely qualified to support this elite squadron as a national cyber leader with a top-notch talent pool. I will continue to do all I can to ensure this cutting-edge squadron stays here in Maryland.”
“VAQ-209 is one of the most unique squadrons in American history, fusing the best and brightest of Naval aviation and electronic warfare research and development to save lives and defend our country,” Senator Kirk said. “While an active duty squadron could operate elsewhere, a combat-deployable reserve electronic attack force squadron cannot survive outside the Capitol Beltway region. Over the past decade, VAQ-209 members developed missions and techniques never-before applied to Prowlers – mission sets that saved American lives. As we transition from Prowlers to Growlers, it’s critical we promote VAQ-209’s record of electronic warfare innovation by keeping the squadron where it is.”
The VAQ-209 squadron is an offensive weapon in the U.S. cyber arsenal and can protect our country from electronic attacks. It maintains an East Coast capability to jam enemy radar, gather radio intelligence, jam IEDs, destroy enemy radar sites and test new electronic technology capabilities. Named ‘Reserve Squadron of the Year’ in 2008 and awarded the Battle Efficiency Ribbon in five of the last seven years, VAQ-209 has deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq five times since 2006. With 233 personnel stationed less than 10 miles from Washington, D.C., the Squadron is important to the safety and defense of the National Capital Region, and a unique capability to test and development new capabilities for the Navy’s Electronic Attack fleet.
In September 2011, Senators Cardin, Mikulski and Kirk sent a letter to the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert urging him to keep the VAQ-209 Squadron at Joint Base Andrews. A copy of that letter is available here.