Dear Mr. Secretary:
We write to ask that the Air Force identify funding in the Future Years Defense Plan for the Component Numbered Air Force (c-NAF) mission proposed for the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield, Illinois.
The 183rd is scheduled to take on this new c-NAF mission and the Illinois Air National Guard is ready to begin the challenging task of accepting it.
The c-NAF mission has over 300 personnel, which does not offset the personnel losses created by the possible departure of the F-16 fighters, as recommended by the base realignment process. The Springfield unit will do all it can to ensure the best qualified airmen are assigned, retained, and trained in this new mission.
The Illinois Air National Guard, given its proven track record of accomplishment, will make this transition successful if the Air Force and the National Guard Bureau adequately fund training, provide the necessary equipment, and upgrade the facilities. To do otherwise would have a devastating impact on this unit.
In addition, the 183rd Fighter Wing is scheduled to lose the F-16 aircraft from its unit. The 183rd Fighter Wing has flown missions for over 60 years, and retaining a flying mission in Springfield is essential. We will continue to fight for a flying mission for the fighter wing.
In the meantime, we strongly urge you and the rest of the Air Force leadership to wholeheartedly support and fully fund the transformation of this Springfield-based wing into the c-NAF mission. Funding must be identified in the Future Years Defense Plan as soon as possible if the unit is to fulfill its responsibilities as a new command element of the Air Force.
Senator Richard Durbin
Senator Barack Obama
Congressman John Shimkus
Congressman Phil Hare
Congressman Ray LaHood