The governors of Texas and other Gulf states like Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi have written to the White House imploring to block the move of C-130 fleet from their states. The US Air Force are planning to move the entire fleet of C-130 transport aircraft of the Texas National Guard to Montana.
The Air Force along with the rest of the military units is making a lot of changes due to budget cuts. Part of this change is to move units of aircraft to different bases. One such move will see the Texas C-130 fleet transferred to Montana, which will lose its F-15 fighters. The Texas National Guard will gain MC-12 Liberty plane, these aircraft gather intelligence.
Gulf states are prone to experience major weather disturbances like hurricanes and the C-130 are very useful in during these emergencies. When the Hurricane Katrina and Rita in 2005 as well as with Hurricane Ike and Gustav in 2008 hit the Gulf region, the C-130s had been instrumental in evacuating people and transporting supplies during the calamity.
A part of the governors’ letter to the President reads:
“Texas and the Gulf Coast are under constant threat of hurricanes, wildfires and floods. These C-130s have answered the call to support Gulf Coast States to counter these threats at a moment’s notice. … Mr. President, it makes no sense to move the assets of a perfectly functioning and experienced unit that has supported us well to establish the exact same capability in a state with none of this experience or any ties to the states that traditionally require these assets for emergency response.”
Since the C-130 belongs to the Air National Gurad, Texas Governor Rick Perry can easily call it up when a disaster strikes any gulf state and it will be ready to respond within hours. If the transport aircraft moved, there will be no C-130 withing the vicinity that can respond during disasters. Gulf state governors will have to rely on the Defense Department to call up federal military forces to see action during a calamity – a process that can take-up several days.
Gulf state governors are not alone in their pursuit. Gulf states senators and congress representatives are questioning military officials about the merit of the C-130 transfer. During the budget committee hearing, representatives from the gulf states have bombarded Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and the Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Norton Schwartz with questions and demands of explanation on how the Air Force can benefit financially in moving the C-130s. Unfortunately, the military officials have yet to come up with an answer.
“The hearing today was for the budget of the Air Force,” Rep. Kay Granger, R-Fort Worth said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon. “We asked questions about their plan, and they can’t provide reasonable explanations as to why they made their decisions. That makes me angry.”
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