From an editorial Friday in the (Greensboro) News & Record:
When it comes to defense cuts in their home states or districts, it’s amazing how many senators and representatives become expert military strategists.
“I will pursue all options available to help stop this strategically flawed plan from being fully implemented,” Sen. Thom Tillis said recently about a proposal to deactivate the Air Force’s 440th Airlift Wing at Fort Bragg.
All of North Carolina’s political leaders oppose this plan, which first surfaced last year. It reduces manpower and military investment at the sprawling Army base, creating a negative economic impact for the state.
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That’s not an effective argument against the move, however. The Department of Defense has to cut spending. As part of that process, the Air Force is reducing its fleet of C-130 transport planes. It can save more than $100 million, without sacrificing training or military response capabilities, by eliminating the wing at Fort Bragg, the Air Force says.
“It’s a disappointment that the Air Force has refused to acknowledge the strategic concerns expressed by the entire North Carolina delegation,” Rep. Renee Ellmers said.
Yet, the Air Force has addressed the strategic concerns. While it seems illogical to separate the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from an airlift wing, the Air Force says it can have planes on the tarmac ready to transport soldiers when they’re ready to go. If there are military considerations the Air Force has missed, Congress should make a factual case.
Tillis is blocking the confirmation of Defense Department and Air Force civilian nominees in response to the 440th Airlift Wing position. Politicians are expected to protect federal resources on their home turf. In this battle, they have yet to find a winning strategy to save the 440th.