The Air Force has proposed taking eight C-130 transport aircraft from the Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth and moving them to Montana, where new facilities will need to be constructed and new operating crews will need to be trained. This decision not only wastes a lot of taxpayer money, it leaves Texas and the Gulf Coast region unprepared when natural disasters hit. Every member of the Texas Congressional delegation, Republican and Democrat, is united in opposing this decision and committed to fighting it.
Since 2005, this Texas Air Guard C-130 squadron has delivered over 900 tons of emergency supplies to the Gulf Coast, carried over 3,000 passengers, and been dispatched to over 400 storm response missions. Losing these aircraft reduces our capacity to respond to natural disasters, leaving Texas and surrounding states vulnerable. If that weren’t enough, moving these aircraft will require that new facilities be built and new crews be trained in Montana, at an estimated cost of $100 million. The Air Force has not done its due diligence in making this decision. Spending $100 million in Montana to build what Fort Worth already has does not make sense for taxpayers and it doesn’t make sense for the millions of Gulf Coast residents who are impacted by natural disasters in our region every year.
I am personally committed to making sure this plan does not move forward. I have mobilized the entire Texas Congressional Delegation into action, and this week all 34 of us signed a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley challenging this proposal. At a Defense Appropriations Subcommittee budget hearing with Secretary Leon Panetta, I voiced my opposition and asked if a cost-benefit analysis was ever done before this decision was made. I am still waiting for a response.
As this issue develops I will keep you informed.
Member of Congress