Panetta Visits Airmen at Niagara Falls

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Air National Guardsmen and Air Force Reservists assigned to Niagara Falls ARS, N.Y., that the Pentagon remains committed to the base. “We’re counting on this base. It’s important geographically,” said Panetta during his Aug. 9 visit to Niagara Falls, home of the New York Air National Guard’s 107th Airlift Wing and Air Force Reserve Command’s 914th AW, which together operate C-130H transports. Under the Defense Department’s proposed force structure changes in Fiscal 2013, Niagara Falls would lose three of its C-130H2s next fiscal year. Then, in Fiscal 2017, the remaining eight C-130H2s would go, replaced by eight newer C-130H3s. Panetta said DOD is “making investments” at Niagara Falls, including spending $6.1 million for a C-130 flight simulator. But he also said he wants to look at missions that these airmen are “going to have to have for the future,” whether it’s intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance or “working with new technologies.” Congress appears set on placing a one-year moratorium on Air Force force structure adjustments in Fiscal 2013, including those proposed for Niagara Falls. (Niagara Falls report by MSgt. Kevin Nichols) (Panetta transcript) (See also Proposed Aircraft Reductions.)