AF Plan Could Have "Severely" Inhibited Air Guard's
Nearly 45,000 National Guard officers are expressing their
approval of a bi-partisan congressional effort to turn back an Air
Force plan to take C-130 cargo planes from the Air Guard to replace
aging active-component aircraft. In a letter Friday to Air Force
Secretary Michael B. Donley, 23 members of the U.S. House of
Representatives said the plan, if executed, would "severely
inhibit" the Air Guard's ability to complete its wartime
They also accused the Air Force officials of "trying to solve a
short-term problem without looking at the long-term impact of such
a decision." The lawmakers urged the Air Force to "withdraw" the
scheme unless officials could provide "conclusive proof" that the
plan is "the best course of action," along with "alternate plans
that have been considered."
The letter comes on the heels of a March 24 letter from the
Senate National Guard Caucus that condemned the plan.
"Capitol Hill sees what Guard leaders across the nation see,"
said retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, NGAUS president. "That is, a
continuation of what appears to be a consistent trend since the
2005 BRAC to cut the Air Guard without any input from the Air
"As a result, Air Guard missions, cost-effectiveness and
experience get left out of the decision-making equation," he said.
"It's simply a bad way to do business, especially with dollars for
modernization so scarce." The Air Force scheme, which is included
in the president's 2011 budget proposal, would shift 11 C-130
Hercules cargo planes from Air Guard bases nationwide to replace
older active-component models at Little Rock Air Force Base,
It also would 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 month 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 when the Air
Guard did not show up when called," Hargett said. "And we keep
asking for examples."
The association includes nearly 45,000 current or former Guard
officers. It was created in 1878 to provide unified National Guard
representation in Washington. In their first productive meeting
after Reconstruction, militia officers from the North and South
formed the association with the goal of obtaining better equipment
and training by petitioning Congress for more resources. Today, 132
years later, NGAUS has the same mission.