WASHINGTON – The Air Force has proposed a $400 million package to "mitigate" controversial cuts to Air Guard programs included in its 2013 budget plan that would maintain 24 additional C-130 cargo planes but do nothing for the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith.
WASHINGTON – The Air Force has proposed a $400 million package to “mitigate” controversial cuts to Air Guard programs included in its 2013 budget plan that would maintain 24 additional C-130 cargo planes but do nothing for the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta outlined the budget revision in a letter Tuesday to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich.
Levin issued a statement Tuesday saying the recommendation represented “progress” toward restoring some proportionality to the Air Force’s proposed budget.
“I understand this recommendation would reverse more than 40 percent of the personnel reductions to the Air National Guard initially proposed by the Air Force. I will continue to look for mitigating steps in order to achieve proportionality in any cuts to the Air Force,” Levin said.
The 2013 Air Force budget, which was announced in February, proposed replacing the A-10 mission at Fort Smith with one that would operate Predator/Reaper drones. The Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan would also lose its 21 A-10 warthogs.
Overall, the Air Force budget included a $770 million reduction to the Air Guard and elimination of about 5,100 Guard personnel. State governors, worried about their ability to respond to natural disasters, have panned the cuts.
Panetta asked Air Force leadership to work with the Council of Governors on options.
The Air Force decided to add C-130s in recognition of the important role that the aircraft play in support of states in the even of natural disasters, Panetta said in his letter.
The revised proposal is also expected to save about 2,200 Guard personnel that had been on the chopping block.