Officers at the Utah State University Air Force ROTC Unit breathed a sigh of relief Tuesday when they were told that their program would exist for another two years.

The Air Force had announced plans in February to close down the USU unit and 36 others programs in the wake of a congressional mandate to cut select military budgets.Criticism over the way the doomed programs were selected prompted the reprieve.

"We're up and running and counting on remaining a full-fledged detachment," said Capt. Howard T. Davis, professor of aerospace studies at the school. Program officials are hopeful their unit will be re-evaluated after two years and allowed to operate permanently.

The news of a reprieve came to the USU detachment from the office of Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah. Hansen has been one of the most vocal critics of the criteria used to single out the 37 programs. He received a letter Monday from the secretary of the Air Force Monday announcing the two-year extension.

The closures were based on studies of the unit's budgets and officer production that followed a congressional mandate calling for the trimming of both.