Good for Awhile Longer

Apparently the missive from Illinois lawmakers to National Guard Bureau chief Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum to intercede with USAF for the Air National Guard units at Springfield had a beneficial effect. In a joint release Aug. 26, Sen. Dick Durbin (D) and Sen. Barack Obama (D) said that the firefighters who worked with the 183rd Fighter Wing have received a one-year extension to September 2009. The BRAC 2005 shake-out cut the F-16s of the 183rd FW, but, according to Blum the wing will be working to help ease the Air Guard’s F-16 phase maintenance backlog. In his letter, Blum wrote that the wing “volunteered to perform this much needed capability through the summer of next year. This critical maintenance work will clear our backlog and will also require a firefighting capability to remain on station while the work is performed.” However, on the issue of finding a new flying mission for the 183rd FW, Blum was less positive. He noted it is an Air Force decision and must be “made in the context of decisions already made under the 2005 BRAC and current budget realities.” Undeterred, both Durbin and Obama vow to continue to urge the Air Force to find the wing a new flying mission, which would also preserve the firefighting unit, which, in Obama’s words, “provide invaluable support to Illinois’ security, readiness, and emergency preparedness.”