Air Force Wants To Place Guard Aircraft With Active Duty
Nearly 45,000 National Guard officers on Wednesday applauded
the effort of the Senate National Guard Caucus to turn back an Air
Force plan to replace aging active-component cargo planes with
aircraft from the Air Guard.
In a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael B. Donley, Senators
Patrick Leahy, D-VT, and Kit Bond, R-MO, co-chairmen of the Senate
National Guard Caucus, called for a reconsideration of the
"This most recent announcement," they wrote, "is a troubling
move in what appears to be a consistent trend since the 2005 BRAC
to reduce the number of aircraft from the Air National Guard
without substantive or even any consultation with Air National
"In a time of economic downturn and smaller defense budgets,"
Leahy and Bond continued, "we encourage the Department of Defense
and Air Force to adopt structures such as active associate wings to
leverage the Air National Guard's lower operating and
infrastructure costs and more experienced civilian airmen."
Retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, NGAUS president, said the Senate
Guard Caucus is not only looking out for the Guard, but also the
American taxpayer. "We're talking about cutting our most
cost-effective and versatile force when we should be cutting excess
personnel and infrastructure not involved in today's missions," he
said. "This is bad for America and, ultimately, will be bad for the
U.S. Air Force."
C130 File Photo
The Air Force plan, which is included in the president's 2011
budget proposal, would shift 12 C-130 Hercules cargo planes from
Air Guard bases nationwide to replace older active component models
at Little Rock Air Force Base, AR, while shifting one plane from
the Air Force Reserve into the Guard.
These movements are based on a study which was still incomplete
at the time the president's budget was submitted to Congress. It
would also eliminate the only flying unit in the Puerto Rico Air
Guard. In all, 21 Air Guard C-130s would be affected. Documents
shared with lawmakers last week indicate that the aircraft would
come from Air Guard units in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois,
Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Texas and West
Air Force leaders say part of the reasoning for the plan is that
the Air Guard is not always "accessible" for missions. Guard
leaders say the charge is pure myth. "No one in the Air Force can
cite a single example of when the Air Guard did not respond when
called," Hargett said. "And we've asked for examples."