Burr & Tillis: Shuttering 440th Airlift Wing Would Harm Combat Readiness
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Richard Burr (R-NC) wrote to Army Chief of Staff Mark A. Milley, expressing concern that the Air Force’s plan to dismantle the 440th Airlift Wing at Fort Bragg’s Pope Airfield would undermine the training and readiness of America’s Global Response Force.
The senators compared the strategically-flawed decision to a failed business model in which a supplier (the Air Force) dictates to a customer (the Army) how and when a service (airborne training) is delivered.
Tillis and Burr requested that General Milley engage leaders at the Department of the Air Force and question them as to why they are failing to live up to their commitment to ensure American troops are properly trained and ready for combat.
Air Force officials have previously admitted that they did not consult with Army leadership before proceeding with plans to remove the C-130H presence from Pope Airfield. Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson, the former commander of Fort Bragg and the XVIII Airborne Corps, publicly expressed his opposition to dismantling the 440th Airlift Wing earlier this year, asking, “of all places in the world, why would we take that capability away from Fort Bragg?”
September 22, 2015
General Mark A. Milley
Army Chief of Staff
200 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0200
We remain concerned that some within the Pentagon continue to confuse the responsibilities of a supported service and a supporting service. The Air Force’s efforts to reduce support to America’s Global Response Force exemplifies this confusion by placing the desires of the supporting service ahead of the needs of the supported service.
The Air Force’s proposal to support paratrooper proficiency for the XVIII Airborne Corps solely from remote airbases utterly fails as a logical business model. In no successful enterprise would a supplier or provider of support dictate to the customer how and when such support is delivered. More specifically, the Army would never offer an opinion as to how the Air Force runs a bomber base, nor should the Air Force prescribe to the Army Airborne how and when it can train its paratroopers.
In the last few months we have engaged all levels of leadership in the XVIII Airborne Corps from commanding generals to first sergeants. To a man, we have received the same message—the Corps’ airborne qualifications are degraded, units are not getting the support they require. As you are aware, Air Mobility Command’s own plan shows they cannot meet Fort Bragg’s daily training requirements, if the indigenous Air Force lift presence disappears.
This is not an adversarial protest. We appreciate that the supporting and supported dynamic has been inverted and believe routine service comity is no longer acceptable when the readiness of America’s airborne forcible entry capability is affected.
We respectfully ask that you take a detailed look at the facts and figures regarding Air Force support to airborne training at Fort Bragg and, if they demonstrate the threat to readiness we have seen, engage the Department of the Air Force as to the reasons why they are not living up to their commitments. We are not seeking confrontation; our goal remains, from day one, that United States’ airborne forces are primed and ready and impediments to their readiness are vigorously opposed.
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