Air Force rethinking plan to move planes

March 15, 2012 at 4:57 PM
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WASHINGTON, March 15 (UPI) -- Lawmakers from Gulf Coast states welcomed word the U.S. Air Force is reconsidering its decision to relocate the 136th Airlift Wing from Fort Worth, Texas.

Congressional delegations from all Gulf Coast states have joined Texas in a bid to keep the eight C-130 aircraft from moving to Montana, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.

The Air Force said it is reconsidering the move in response to a question from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas.

"I am pleased the Air Force leadership is reconsidering the transfer of these critical aircraft from Fort Worth," Hutchison said.

"These planes provide a key airlift capacity in saving lives during Gulf Coast disasters. Moreover, it's simply not efficient for the Air Force to move the planes to Montana, where new facilities will have to be constructed to service the planes. I trust the Air Force leadership will ultimately reject this bad idea."

Speaking at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee, Hutchison asked Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz about the proposed move.

"Are you reconsidering, and if not, why not?" Hutchison asked.

"The short answer is 'Yes, we are,'" Schwartz said. "In fact, part of the council of governors proposal was an adjustment to our original recommendation."

President Barack Obama created the council of 10 governors to advise the administration and the Defense Department on hazards and responses to emergencies.

The Air Force said it is working on an alternative to moving the planes from Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth.

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