Gov. Perry: Keep Critical Disaster Recovery Air Assets in Texas
Earlier this year, the U.S. Air Force announced plans to relocate the eight C-130s based here in Fort Worth across the country to Montana.
Everybody here knows that I've had my disagreements with Washington, but moving aircraft so vital to hurricane response 1,000 miles farther from the Gulf Coast ranks as one of the worst ideas I've ever heard.
It makes no sense for our safety and security, and is essentially the same as telling local folks their ambulance service has moved out of state.
These planes are strategic assets for our national defense, part of a unit that has ably performed overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
But they're also vital components of our disaster response team at home, not just in Texas but in neighboring states, as well.
As long as these C-130s are based in Fort Worth, they can be deployed anywhere in our state or across the Gulf Coast with a simple phone call and be ready to take action within hours as part of the Texas Air National Guard.
In fact, since 2005, these C-130s have flown 423 storm response sorties in Texas and along the Gulf Coast, transporting more than 3,000 passengers and delivering 939 tons of emergency supplies.
During Hurricane Katrina, these C-130s were among the first to arrive, bringing National Guard and desperately-needed supplies to areas horribly ravaged by the storm.
During Hurricanes Ike and Gustav in 2008, the planes were called into action before the storms hit, helping evacuate 800 hospital patients and nursing home residents from the hurricane's path.
That was the first time in United States history that was accomplished, by the way.
Unfortunately, it might be among the last times, too, if this plan ultimately goes through.
With respect to our friends in Montana, this move simply doesn't make sense.
Moving these assets across the country would effectively abandon millions of Americans from the tip of Texas across the Gulf Coast during critical times of need, times when literally every minute counts.
This move will not only hamper recovery efforts, but jeopardize the lives of those who need help the most.
Estimates on the move's cost have been set at up to $75 million and the nearly two-year transitional period will leave these C-130s inaccessible, for anyone, as new facilities are built and new personnel are trained.
My message to Washington is simple: the facilities you need are here, the trained personnel you need are here.
At a time when our nation needs to scale back unnecessary spending, there is absolutely no reason at all to reinvent the wheel in Montana at the expense of the safety and security of the Gulf Coast.
Today we are asking the Department of Defense to overturn the Air Force's decision to move these critical air assets.
Leading this charge is our entire Texas Congressional Delegation who have not been shy about making their voices - and ours - heard in the Halls of Congress, including both Senator Hutchison and Senator Cornyn.
This has truly been a unanimous, bipartisan effort with members of both sides coming together to fight this decision.
Assistant Director, Texas Department of Public Safety
Texas Adjutant General and Commander, Texas Military Forces
Texas, District 12
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