Lawmakers Target New Missions

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Sen. Trent Lott's and Rep. Chip Pickering's statements that they will work to bring new missions to the Air National Guard Base in Meridian, Miss., come following Friday's decision by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to strip the base of all its refueling airplanes.

The decision will result in the loss of 33 military jobs and 142 civilian jobs at the 1,100-employee facility.

It's the first time the commission has voted to close or realign Guard units.

The move has already started a legal showdown in some states and Gov. Haley Barbour and other officials haven't ruled out the possibility of taking legal action to protect Mississippi's Guard bases.

Meanwhile, Lott and Pickering will work to find other flying missions for Key Field.

Lott said in a prepared statement that he was disappointed in BRAC's decision, but "I'm very pleased that they do recognize the important of keeping this facility open."

Pickering says that he's confident that, working together, he, Lott, and other officials can move forward in a way that ensures a valuable role for guardsmen in Meridian.