Letters have been sent to the Pentagon and the White House, decrying the proposed cuts to Army and Air Guard forces. A plea to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from the National Governors Association urged him to take the “holistic approach to our Homeland Security” and to remember the “reduced cost” benefit provided by ground and air Guard forces. In a letter to President Bush, Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) lists the Guard issue as his No. 1 in a list of three he wants the President to address in the State of the Union speech. A letter to Rumsfeld from the Tennessee Senators Bill Frist and Lamar Alexander notes the “difficulty” Rumsfeld faces, but emphasizes it “is imperative that the Guard maintain its combat strength.” Tennessee is already upset over the BRAC decision to take the Nashville’s Air National Guard aircraft.
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.