Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Delaware Delegation Raises Concerns About Proposed C-130 Transfer

In a Letter to the Secretary of the Air Force, Delegation Asks For Delaware’s Fleet to Be Preserved

April 19, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an April 19 letter to the Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley, Delaware’s federal delegation asked the Air Force to clarify its proposal to transfer one of eight critical C-130 planes from the Delaware Air National Guard’s 166th Airlift Wing. The delegation’s letter states that the move could result in job losses as well as diminish the Air National Guard’s ability to protect the United States and respond to local and regional emergencies including natural disasters.

The letter states, “We know you share our concern of adequately protecting our homeland and defending our national security interests overseas while also spending our taxpayers’ dollars wisely.  We respectfully request that you reconsider how best to achieve these goals without recapitalizing aircraft from the Air Guard.”

“The Delaware Air National Guard performs an invaluable service — both at home and abroad — and our delegation wants to ensure that they have all the equipment they need to carry out their missions,” said Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.). “We are pleased to see that the Active Duty Air Force and the Air National Guard are working towards an arrangement that saves tax payers’ money, yet does not permanently cut our C-130 numbers in Delaware. This letter expresses our desire to see this compromise ensure that the Delaware National Guard retains ownership of all eight of its C-130s.”

“The Air Force told us in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing last week that it will soon issue a new proposal, which I hope better addresses the Air National Guard’s concerns,” said Sen. Ted Kaufman (D-Del.). “I believe it is important that we balance both our homeland and our international security needs and that we take care of our National Guard and active duty troops.”

“Our Air National Guard exemplifies the highest standards of performance and response, for which we are all appreciative,” said Congressman Mike Castle (R-Del.). “Together, we are working to ensure that decisions regarding this fleet are made with long-term security needs in mind, for both Delaware and the nation.”

Full text of the letter below:

The Honorable Michael B. Donley

Secretary of the Air Force

1170 Air Force Pentagon

U.S. Department of the Air Force

Washington, DC 20330

Dear Secretary Donley,

We write to express our deep concerns regarding the plan by the United States Air Force to transfer C-130 aircraft from 16 units across the nation to Air Force Active Duty and Reserve Units.  These plans include the removal of one of eight critical C-130 aircraft from the Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Airlift Wing in an effort to recapitalize the Active Duty C-130 fleet.

The Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Airlift Wing has a long and proud tradition of demonstrated expert airmanship flying eight C-130s of varying configurations since 1971.  The Wing has always responded when called upon to support federal requirements as well as domestic operations, as demonstrated by their service during Operations Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and for countless humanitarian relief and disaster assistance efforts.

We are concerned that the federal mission relied upon in the formulation of the Mobility Capabilities and Requirements Study (MCRS) 2016 does not take into account the needs of individual states to respond to domestic requirements.  Further, we believe that any permanent reduction to the Air Guard's flying unit size will significantly impact the Governor's ability to quickly respond to natural disasters and other emergencies.  Fully resourcing the 166th Airlift Wing is also critical given Delaware's strategic location on the East Coast with its proximity to the nation's capital, as well as Philadelphia and New York City.

We urge that alternative solutions to the C-130 transfer plan presented in MCRS 2016, such as the use of Associate Wings, be considered to capitalize on the economic and practical strengths of the Air National Guard.  The Air National Guard is one of the most cost effective components of the USAF Total Force.  Traditional Air Guard members are paid only when they are actually working or deployed.  The retirement and benefit costs are much lower than their active duty counterparts.  Air Guard members bring a wealth of experience to the fight when maintaining and supporting an aging aircraft fleet such as that of the C-130s.

We know you share our concern of adequately protecting our homeland and defending our national security interests overseas while also spending our taxpayers’ dollars wisely.  We respectfully request that you reconsider how best to achieve these goals without recapitalizing aircraft from the Air Guard.

Sincerely,

Michael N. Castle

Thomas R. Carper

Edward E. Kaufman

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