Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said he hopes that the Defense Department will retain the C-27J Spartan transports it’s already acquired, even though the Air Force last month announced plans to divest the entire Spartan fleet. For now, Odierno said the few C-27s that are already in use in Afghanistan will remain there until officials decide what to do with the fleet. “Here is our problem. We have [C-23] Sherpas, which are old and no longer effective,” Odierno told defense reporters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. “What I don’t want to have to do is modernize the Sherpas. I’d like to keep the C-27s we’ve already purchased. But we haven’t purchased that many. That’s another problem.” The Air Force has already procured 21 of the 38 C-27s it had intended to acquire for the Air National Guard. The plan had been for the Air Guard to use the tiny airlifters to provide direct support to Army units. Instead, the Air Force now intends to attach C-130s to Army units down range to provide that type of support, said Odierno. (See also Spartan Beginnings from Air Force Magazine’s 2011 archive.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.