NDAA Balances Aircraft, Forms Commission

NGAUS Washington Report

(Dec. 18, 2012) Published reports point to a compromise regarding Air National Guard aircraft in the National Defense Authorization Act now being negotiated on Capitol Hill.

The cargo aircraft once tabbed for retirement will remain, but some fighter aircraft will go if those reports accurately reflect the behind-closed-doors talks that could lead to a vote on the 2013 NDAA by the end of the week.

The Air Guard would lose 21 F-16s from the 132nd Fighter Wing of the Iowa National Guard and 20 A-10s from the 188th Fighter Wing of the Arkansas Air Guard.

Exempt from retirement would be C-5s, C-130s and C-27Js. This would cause the loss of fewer airmen than originally sought by the Air Force when it released its budget in the spring.

In addition, the NDAA would create a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, which the Air Force has opposed.

These results appear to be a compromise driven by lawmakers in search of a solution to the months-long problem.

NGAUS thought a victory had been won when both chambers of Congress refused to endorse the Air Force plan found in the President's Budget.

But this deal seems to have been orchestrated by a few in Congress and was neither vetted nor endorsed by the National Guard Bureau, the adjutants general or the governors.  The changes come despite the steadfast efforts this year from members such as Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, who has been a strong and vocal advocate of the National Guard.

His colleague, Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, is on record saying he will oppose this plan.