Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, who heads the National Guard Bureau, said Tuesday at AFA’s Air & Space Conference that the NGB is spending a lot of time trying to work out the ramifications over ANG’s assumption of the C-27J mission, which provides tactical air mobility support to Army ground forces. The C-27 program was to be shared between the Air Force and Army, but the Pentagon last year gave it solely to USAF, which passed the mission to the Air Guard. McKinley observed that because the Air Guard is a part time force with a light footprint across the nation, it’s not well suited to “own” this mission. The reason, he said, is that leaves no dedicated advocates in the active Air Force or Army who are going to lobby for the mission. McKinley is on record agreeing with the Pentagon decision to limit the C-27 buy to just 38 aircraft, not the 78 originally planned, with the proviso that USAF provide enough C-130s to augment C-27s to fulfill the Army direct airlift needs. (Some influential lawmakers remain convinced 38 C-27s are not enough.)
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.