Fri, May 09, 2003
Guard Director Calls Current Situation "Unconscionable"
North Dakota’s Happy Hooligans -– whom their senator
calls, "arguably the best jet fliers in the U.S. military" -–
fly some of the oldest aircraft in the U.S. military. U.S. Senator
Byron Dorgan (D-ND) wants to know why.
Dorgan pressed Lt. General Danny James, the
Director of the Air National Guard, for an answer to that question
Wednesday at a Capitol Hill hearing. He also urged the head of the
Air National Guard to see that the Happy Hooligans are issued more
James told Dorgan he agreed the current situation is
"unconscionable." and promised direct, priority attention to
correcting the situation.
Dorgan is a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee,
and questioned James and other witnesses at a subcommittee hearing
Wednesday looking into a number of National Guard issues.
"We ought not have one of the best units in the country flying
some of the nation’s oldest planes," Dorgan said. "The Happy
Hooligans are being shortchanged. That’s beyond dispute. But
year, after year, after year, we get the same non-answers. This
situation begs for a solution." [Perhaps because the threat posed
by south-central Canada is considered relatively low?]
James replied, "We’re trying to come up with a solution
because it is unconscionable to have a unit that good, flying
airplanes that old. This is one of my top priorities."
James also told Dorgan he is working on an "out-of-the-box"
solution with his staff which he hopes the Senator will support,
but he is concerned the Air Force may not embrace the idea.
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