Gov. Rick Perry, along with members of the Texas Congressional Delegation and Texas Legislature, continued urging the Department of Defense to overturn a decision by the U.S. Air Force to relocate eight C-130 aircraft, currently based with the 136th Airlift Wing in Fort Worth, to Montana. These are the only Air National Guard C-130s currently located in Texas, and play a critical role in disaster response efforts in Texas and along the entire Gulf Coast.
"As long as these critical air assets are based in Fort Worth, they can be deployed across our state or across the Gulf Coast with a simple phone call, and be in action within hours as part of the Texas Air National Guard," Gov. Perry said. "Moving these assets across the country would effectively abandon millions of Americans from the tip of Texas across the Gulf Coast during critical times of need when every minute counts."
"The Air Force has been unable to justify why it is in our national security interest to move this experienced squadron out of Texas," U.S. Rep. Kay Granger said. "This decision will hurt Texas and the entire Gulf Coast. At a time when the Pentagon has to make decisions on where to cut costs, this move would cost tens of millions of dollars and will make our homeland less secure."
"The 136th Airlift Wing is one of the most proven and capable airlift organizations in the USAF," Texas Air National Guard Adjutant General John Nichols said. "These resources are vital to support state and regional hurricane and other emergency responses."
Moving the C-130s to Montana would cost taxpayers nearly $75 million, and leave Americans without the aid of these critical disaster recovery assets for up to two years while a new facility is built and new personnel are trained. Gov. Perry, along with the entire Texas Congressional Delegation and the governors of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida, sent a letter urging the Air Force and Department of Defense not to relocate the aircraft from Texas to Montana, as has been proposed.
"This proposal is not in the best interest of either the war fighter or the taxpayer," the Texas Congressional Delegation wrote in a letter to Secretary Michael Donley of the U.S. Air Force. "There is no justification for moving the assets of a well-functioning and experienced unit to establish the exact same capability in a state with none of this experience and cohesion or any ties to states that traditionally require these assets for emergency response."
In a letter to President Obama, Gov. Perry and the Gulf Coast governors wrote, "Mr. President, it makes no sense to move the assets of a perfectly functioning and experienced unit... The unnecessary cost to taxpayers in MILCON (Military Construction Corporation) and additional training and operational requirements... seems to be a waste."
Since 2005, these C-130s have flown more than 400 storm response sorties in Texas and along the Gulf Coast, including during hurricanes Katrina, Ike and Gustav. They have also transported more than 3,000 passengers and delivered more than 900 tons of emergency supplies.