Wednesday, March 07, 2012  •  Austin, Texas  •  Noteworthy

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans in 2005, among the first arriving in the aftermath were the C-130s of the 136th Airlift Wing, based in Fort Worth, carrying National Guard and much-needed emergency supplies. In subsequent gulf hurricanes, the 136th also helped evacuate hospital and nursing room patients ahead of the storms.

Under a proposal currently being considered, this proven and capable unit may no longer be available to respond to disasters in Texas and all along the Gulf Coast.

The 136th might be moved to Montana as part of the USAF Force Structure Changes plan, currently under review.

If the planes leave Texas, they won’t be available for activation in the face of hurricane, flood or wildfire, here in Texas or in any state throughout the region.

Gov. Perry has initiated efforts with fellow Gulf Coast governors to protest the idea of shifting these much-needed assets. These governors know the value of the 136th. Since 2005, the Texas Air Guard C-130s have flown 423 missions responding to storms in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. They’ve carried 3,143 passengers and delivered 939 tons of emergency supplies. Gov. Perry and the Gulf Coast governors have written President Obama to urge him to reconsider this move and leave the C-130s in the Texas Air National Guard so they can continue to provide outstanding support to our states and the nation.

If the 136th is in Montana, such help could take days to arrive, if at all.

In addition, the move is a money-waster during a time of tight budgets and skyrocketing deficits. The move would require extensive additional training, not to mention added construction and operational requirements.

We will continue to work with other governors and our Congressional delegation in Washington to ensure President Obama does not make this critical mistake.

Read the letter sent by Gov. Perry and Gulf Coast governors.

Read the letter sent by the Texas Congressional Delegation.