Iowa Congressman Tom Latham defended the Iowa National Guard's 132nd Fighter Wing from proposed aircraft cuts during remarks before a House Armed Services subcommittee on Thursday.
Congressman Tom Latham took part in the hearing, which focused on Air Force cost reduction plans, at the request of the House Armed Services Committee. The Air Force has proposed a reduction of hundreds of Iowa Air Guard positions due to recent recommendations to retire the F-16 mission of the Des Moines-based 132nd Fighter Wing as part of cost-saving measures, a plan Congressman Latham strongly opposes.
Congressman Latham gave a statement during the hearing and asked questions of witnesses who testified before the panel. During the hearing, Congressman Latham noted that the decision to eliminate the F-16 mission appears to have been reached without proper concern for the impact such a reduction would have on national security.
"I'm concerned that the aircraft reductions being recommended to Congress are based purely on meeting the right budget number in the short term," Congressman Latham said following the hearing. "These decisions should be based primarily on the expected future national security environment and on finding the most cost-effective ways to address it. The proposal to retire the 132nd Fighter Wing's F-16s simply does not make sense under these considerations and could weaken our national security."
Congressman Latham has taken action on several fronts to protect the highly decorated fighter wing from retirement. Congressman Latham has worked closely with House leadership and colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to include language protecting the fighter wing in the 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill. He's also testified before the House Armed Services Committee about the potential damage closure of the air wing could do to national security and the local economy.