- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2007

The Air Force unit responsible for protecting the District and organizing a regional response to an emergency is moving its headquarters from Bolling Air Force Base in Southwest to Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George’s County, the Air Force announced yesterday.

The Air Force District of Washington’s move will bring more than 300 jobs to Andrews, home of Air Force One, over the next two years. The base also will receive about 400 new jobs by 2011 from the military’s Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) plan.

The move will unite the unit’s headquarters with the planes and airstrips at Andrews. Bolling does not have an airstrip or planes.

It also spreads out the military units responsible for coordinating a response in case of an attack on the District, reducing the likelihood that all three could become incapacitated by one attack.

“The Military District of Washington, the Naval District of Washington and the Air Force District of Washington are probably all within a home-run hit of our new stadium in Washington D.C.,” said Maj. Gen. Robert L. Smolen, commander of the Air Force District of Washington, at a press conference yesterday. “And if something catastrophic were to happen in the nation’s capital, the three principal elements that you would be depending on to respond may not be able to do the things that they would like to do. … It was obvious that the home of the Air Force District of Washington’s flag really belongs at Andrews Air Force Base.”

The Air Force unit was formed in 2005, partly as a response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. It combines the Air Force assets in the capital region under one centralized command.

“As a result of what happened that day, we realized within the Department of Defense that we should be better prepared for the unthinkable that we were not even imagining prior to that, so that if anything bad happened in the national capital region, we would be able to respond effectively to save lives,” Gen. Smolen said.

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