Winners and Losers?

The latest reported adjustments to the Air Force’s original aircraft force structure plan for 2013 include at least one purported winner and two prospective losers. USAF officials have been talking with lawmakers and state officials as it tries to save the force structure plan it rolled out with its Fiscal 2013 budget proposal—the one that Congress decided needed a so-called “strategic pause” and that placed a larger share of the pain this time on reserve components. Late last week, USAF officials told the Alabama Congressional delegation that it had currently scrapped plans to remove the seven C-130s of Air Force Reserve Command’s 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell AFB, Ala. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said in a joint statement Nov. 15, “We have been in close contact with the Air Force and are encouraged by the news that they no longer plan to relocate C-130 aircraft from Maxwell.” However, he added that “the decision is not final, but this is positive news.” Also last week, lawmakers in Alaska and Arkansas got word that planned aircraft changes in their states are moving forward. Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) on Nov. 15 asked fellow senators to halt any mission reassignments within the Air National Guard for 2013, reports Arkansas Under current plans, the Arkansas ANG’s 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith would lose its A-10s. Alaskan lawmakers believe a housing study released last week that shows a lack of rental housing in Anchorage bolsters their view that USAF should not move F-16s from Eielson Air Force Base to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. However, the News-Miner reports that an Air Force spokesman said no single negative study would change USAF’s plan. (For background on this issue, read Finding a Compromise.)