Good for the Goose

Two Illinois lawmakers have written to the head of the National Guard Bureau, Army Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, to urge him “to take further steps with the Air Force to assign a flying mission to the 183rd [Fighter Wing].” In an Aug. 19 letter to Blum, Sen. Dick Durbin (D) and Presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D) noted that the 183rd will lose the last of its F-16s by October and that USAF “has announced new flying missions for other units, such as the 179th Airlift Wing.” The Ohio Air National Guard’s 179th AW is slated to receive the new C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft in 2012 and C-21s until then. Durbin and Obama have “asked for, and made the case for, a similar bridge mission for the 183rd.” They argue that if the Springfield flying unit goes, then the state will also lose its Springfield firefighter unit, which has “years of experience and training” in firefighting, emergency medicine, and the handling of hazardous materials.” Both the Illinois and Ohio Air Guard units were victims of BRAC 2005. So far, the Air Force has indicated that it plans only to assign non-flying missions to the 183rd FW. Durbin met with the new Air Force leadership last month but apparently received no assurances. In their letter, Durbin and Obama state, “It is time to identify the new flying mission and, if necessary, a bridge plan that will prevent the loss of expertise that currently resides in the 183rd Fighter Wing.”