Contact: Chris Deaton
LATHAM ASKS HOUSE, SENATE NEGOTIATORS ON DEFENSE BILL TO PRESERVE IOWA AIR GUARD F-16s
Iowa Lawmaker Signs Letter Requesting Retention of Freeze on Air Force Structure Changes in FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act
Dec 7, 2012 -
As House and Senate negotiators meet to work on the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Iowa Congressman Tom Latham is continuing to press his case for preservation of the Iowa Air National Guard’s 132nd Fighter Wing. Latham and a bipartisan group of several dozen lawmakers have signed a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees asking that the compromise version of the NDAA retain provisions freezing the Air Force’s current manpower and force structure for fiscal year (FY) 2013.
The House passed its version of the NDAA (H.R. 4310) 299-120 with Congressman Latham’s support on May 18 this year. After amending the House-passed bill, the Senate approved H.R. 4310 by unanimous consent on December 4.
“Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that the Air Force’s proposed cuts for FY 2013 require closer scrutiny before moving forward in the legislative process,” Congressman Latham said. “Decisions about units like the outstanding 132nd Fighter Wing should include thorough cost-benefit analysis and greater input from state officials and lawmakers. I do not believe that the Air Force’s proposals have met these standards, and I will continue working with my colleagues in Congress and in Iowa to ensure that they do.”
The letter Latham signed also requests support for two separate provisions passed in the House and Senate versions of the NDAA: a requirement on the General Accounting Office to conduct and report to Congress a cost-benefit analysis of the Air Force’s FY 2013 proposal, and the creation of a National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force to review the branch’s makeup, respectively.
Earlier this year, the Air Force proposed the elimination of hundreds of Iowa Air Guard positions and 21 F-16s in the Des Moines-based 132nd Fighter Wing as part of nationwide slate of budget cuts for FY 2013. An alternative to that plan presented in November would slash fewer Iowa Air Guard personnel but still retire the 21 F-16s.
Congressman Latham has acted repeatedly this year to prevent the Air Force’s proposed cuts and alter the review process of the branch’s spending decisions. He worked with his colleagues on the House Appropriations Committee to include a section in the FY 2013 Defense Appropriations bill to freeze the proposed retirement of all Air Force aircraft until the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office could review a cost-benefit analysis. The House approved this legislation on July 19, and the provision therein is similar to the reporting requirement in the House-passed version of the NDAA.
Additionally, Congressman Latham has met with National Guard officials and Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley in an effort to find a better way forward. Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee in April, Congressman Latham criticized the Air Force’s proposal for the absence of a cost-benefit analysis and the irreversible elimination of the decorated fighter wing’s considerable experience in the face of an uncertain national security environment.
The text of the letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees is copied below.
Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees:
We ask for your support in conference of the continued freeze of Air Force manpower and force structure for the duration of fiscal year 2013. Additionally, we ask that you maintain the reporting requirements in Section 1076 of the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act and your concurrence in establishing the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, as contained in Title XVII of the Senate-passed National Defense Authorization Act. All four committees of jurisdiction passed laws to prevent the Air Force’s injudicious cuts proposed by its budget submission this year. An overwhelming majority of the Congress, representing both parties and both chambers, believes that these cuts need thorough and objective evaluation before they can either be passed into law or replaced by other proposals that will better enable the Air Force to meet its mission requirements while adhering to the Budget Control Act.
In light of the need for an objective third-party review of the Air Force budget, we reiterate our support for the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force. We believe that an independent Commission is the only manner in which this controversy can be resolved to the satisfaction of all parties. The Commission should work with—but not for—the Air Force, the Governors, the Adjutants General, and the National Guard Bureau to produce a report that proposes the best way forward for our Nation.
Thank you for your leadership on this bill and your attention to our requests.
Print version of this document