BRAC 2005, Delaware Air National Guard A Close Call with Extinction
Brig. Gen. Kennard R. Wiggins Jr. (DE ANG Ret.) Kennard.email@example.com
Recap of Delaware Air National Guard Retirees and Invited Guests BRAC Briefing and Discussion at 166 HQ Wing, DANG 26 May 2005.
Author’s note: I’m calling this a recap, because although I took notes, I hadn’t intended to be the meeting secretary or the official recorder. My notes were my own thoughts and those of others, so this is an “interpretive” recollection of this morning’s proceedings. Also, on the theory that one shouldn’t put anything into an e-mail that one would want to see as a headline in tomorrow’s paper, the particulars of who said what, are not attributed.
The meeting began with introductions and an overview by a uniformed Delaware Air Guard official speaking on behalf of the DANG leadership. He outlined the immediate situation faced by the Delaware Air Guard as a result of the BRAC Panel recommendations.
He also explained that the official stance of the Delaware Air National Guard as a DoD component was to be “on board’ to fully support the BRAC recommendations. They have the best interests of the country and our future security at stake in their deliberations. There is strict DoD guidance that specifically prohibits comment on the process by serving officers and officials in an attempt to keep the process unbiased, and free of parochialism. The money saved by BRAC will be applied towards our future security needs in a cost-effective manner.
The BRAC process begins with a view towards a 20-year time horizon. What should DoD prepare for in twenty years and how should we posture ourselves to meet future threats? The selection criteria emphasized the element of future jointness. While the BRAC Commission has released its recommendations, it has not yet released the supporting data that would support their decisions and the Delaware Congressional delegation is pressing hard for release of the information. The Commission will hold hearings this summer. A regional hearing is scheduled for 8 July in Baltimore where presumably we will have the best opportunity to make our case before the BRAC Commission. It would be very helpful to have the supporting data in hand in order to rebut or verify their conclusions. They make their final recommendation by 8 September and then Congress must vote up or down on the entire measure by around Halloween.
Under the BRAC realignment DANG would lose the Aerial Port and Firefighting functions to Dover AFB, although presumably remaining as ANG, as geographically separated units, available to the Governor as a state asset.
The AeroMed function would move to McGuire and probably switch components to come under a USAFR unit.
Four C-130s would move to Savannah, and four others to Charlotte NC. Some AF planners believe the trained aircrews will follow. The operations and maintenance functions would fold at New Castle.
We would lose 148 fulltime positions (101 Military Technicians, and 47 AGRS). We would lose a total of about 512 part-time positions, or about half the organization as it stands today.
What are the impacts?
This begs the question of “what’s left?” Without a flying mission would we need POL? Supply? Security? It also begs the question that if all that remains is an empty “enclave”, to use the AF word, (I prefer “bastion” myself – look ‘em up) then what is the likelihood of surviving a future round of BRAC? More to the point, what purpose would we serve?
Another DANG official explained the steps taken to inform and educate (through “Town Hall Meetings”) the members of the organization. He emphasized that we are in the middle of a war, and that the unit has sent letters to our members deployed overseas to try to allay their fears and sustain their morale.
From an Air Force perspective, the driver is toward 12 PAA units for C-130 aircraft. This model holds efficiencies of cost and scale vs. the existing 8 PAA model. It was noted that the ANG inventory is relatively new C-130H and J models, but with a shortage of aircrews able to be wartime tasked, having already used their two year mobilization limitation within the last five years. On the other hand, the Air Force has older C-130E model aircraft with low mission capability rates, but lots of aircrews. The Air Force intends to largely consolidate C-130 operations at Little Rock and Pope AFB .
What does the future hold?
The organization just stood up a thirty person Information Operations unit and there is the possibility for other future missions such as Predator management, but few particulars are available from the National Guard Bureau. Another possibility (remote) is permitting the unit to continue to fly under an associate program at Dover on C-5/C-17s. Perhaps even as a “blended unit” like the J-STARS Georgia ANG model at Warner Robbins AFB.
What can we do about this?
The uniformed members are severely limited in what they can do in an official or unofficial basis. Their actions must support the commission and the BRAC process. However, it was noted, that they are bound to add additional facts and data to clarify oversights and assumptions of error made by the BRAC commission. Their task is to marshal the facts in an objective way and provide a logical basis for future BRAC decisions. For example; the BRAC may have been unaware of the impact on New Castle County Airport Operations caused by moving the firefighting function. The staff is working hard to make sure the numbers add up, the tees are crossed and the i’s are dotted. Whatever position the Delaware National Guard takes, we retirees would like to be kept informed, with an eye towards supporting them in any way we can.
There is no question but that we’ll have to get more creative with solutions, and in thinking about new missions, or keeping the missions we now have. What does an Air Guard unit do, if it’s not to fly airplanes?
The retired members, community leaders, and our various associations are much freer to make the subjective case and try to influence the process with civic and political pressure. Nevertheless we must insure there is a wall of separation between our efforts and the official DANG response. There was a free-ranging discussion among the retirees and guests regarding possible strategies and what we should collectively do on behalf of the organization we hold so dear. They included the following talking points in no particular order:
Twelve pack: If the Air Force wants 12 PAA C-130 units, then perhaps we should work hard to make New Castle a location that would be desirable to base such a unit. If the DANG leadership supports this initiative, then this is attractive, in that it preserves our mission, but also enables us to provide a home for the C-130 aircrews being lost in Baltimore and Willow Grove, both within relatively easy reach of New Castle. There are no other C-130 units remaining in the middle-Atlantic triangle of Rhode Island, Kentucky, and North Carolina. We would provide the closest C-130 unit to the National Capital area, and the ability to transport Civil Response teams for Homeland Defense, as well as be an asset for the CDC. Not to mention the capabilities we can offer the governor. Can she rely on our ground vehicles, classrooms, cots, Chem-gear, trained medical personnel, law enforcement, communications and discipline etc. when we give up the primary mission?
Recruiting impacts: Consolidation of assets on active bases radically reduces the recruiting base from which the Air Force can draw future members given a policy of a fifty mile radius. For example only eleven members of the Aeromed Squadron will reside within the fifty miles radius of McGuire. Can McGuire recruit another 50-60 members to backfill the losses from their own area already heavily recruited by other organizations?
Loss of community support: LTG Blum, Chief NGB, likes to say when we call out the Guard, “we call out America”. We are the Air Force presence in northern Delaware and the tri-state area. When this unit disappears, will there still be local support for the F-22 and other future AF programs among the citizens? More importantly, will the wartime volunteerism the AF presently enjoys evaporate in this community? The loss of more than 512 part-time positions is especially damaging to the support among the community. Our traditional Guardsmen are the heart and soul of our operation and the real connective tissue of the community. Any reasonable assessment might have anticipated a reduction or proportional cuts in force structure, but a loss of over 50% is far from a reasonable “fair share” of the pain in a single organization. Why can’t Aeromed move to Dover instead of McGuire and remain as a DANG asset rather than become a USAFRES unit?
Loss of experience: What is the value of trained aircrew and experienced maintenance? How may years of experience will the AF lose as result of this closure? (Officially, AFRES has “closures”, while ANG has “realignments” for political sensitivity). It would be interesting to put a price tag on the recruiting, training and sustainment costs of replacing personnel furloughed prematurely by BRAC.
Inefficiences aren’t so bad: It might make economic sense to realign New Castle, but for many of the above reasons it might not make good sense for our national security and our state’s safety. We have redundancies in five Air Forces among the five armed services. Marine FA-18s, Navy F-14s and Air Force F-15s all have overlapping capabilities but we maintain different airframes, organizations, and infrastructure for good solid doctrinal reasons related to our national security. It would be very cost efficient to consolidate, but we just might get it wrong and this is something we cannot afford to goof up. The total ANG budget is about 2% of the FY 2006 $558 Billion DoD budget and only about 6% of the Air Force . The projected savings for this round of BRAC is about $49 billion over 20 years, or about $2.5 billion per year. How much capability will we lose? We get so very much for so little with the ANG. Why endanger ourselves over such small beans? If this was entirely about money, we might still be flying F-86s.
Who’s on our side?
The National Guard Bureau sits at the intersection of federal and State (TAGs) military authority and the Chief must broker the competing interests of both. The National Guard Bureau deals with organizations, personnel, training and supply and is the federal funding manager for the National Guard. The present Chief was appointed by Secretary Rumsfeld and has the trust and confidence of the Secretary. The Deputy Chief for the ANG is more focused on the relationship between the units and the gaining commands of the Air Force. At a Senior Commanders Conference in Baltimore in 2003 he talked about how some multi-unit states would lose units, and some single unit states might lose their flying units. He is the “go-to” guy for advice for the CoS Air Force on ANG matters, and almost certainly had a situational awareness of the BRAC recommendations. The NGB is Title 10 duty-bound to support the DoD and the BRAC committee and its recommendations.
The TAG Delaware is the Vice President of the Adjutants General Association of the United States (AGAUS). We are informed that AGAUS stands as one, in supporting one another in this BRAC round, characterized by some as “we took ours last round of BRAC – this time it’s your turn ANG!” Insofar as practicable, we should team with the other states. Nevertheless, those states most affected are understandably playing their cards close to their vest. Likewise, our strategy will ultimately have to find a way to single Delaware out from a pack of states that are all making similar arguments.
Our Congressional Delegation stands with us and has already sent some of their staffers over to study the issues and gain the facts. Depending on how one counts closures vs. realignments there are easily over a dozen states directly affected in a negative way. I’m guessing someone smart is doing the political calculations of passing this bill, while losing or even gaining some support in affected states. You hurt too many people in too many places and you lose the political will. So a word of advice is to press on, early and often, and don’t let the legislators go wobbly on us – maintain the pressure. Is the possible loss of New Castle counterweighted politically by the insured future of Dover? Can we depend on our congressional delegation to stay the course? Letters to our elected officials and to the editors of publications will keep this issue alive and vibrant.
The NGAUS is also supportive. We are unsure of MOAA’s position. A local air pilots association is allied over their concern for the future of the Airport, as is the County, and the City of New Castle.
According to Dr. Charles Gross in his book “Air National Guard and the American Military Tradition”, the Air National Guard was unwanted by the Air Staff at the conclusion of World War II. We were drawing down our wartime strength then as well, and only after General Marshall weighed in did they agree to stand up the ANG. Gross writes, “For political reasons each state was allotted at least one flying squadron.” Those same “political reasons” apply today, and our legislators are keenly aware of our interests. If we can provide them with the objective facts, they will listen, particularly if we maintain the political pressure on them that the militia concept demands.
If you receive this, it is because you were present at the briefing or because you are an interested player in this process. The concerns expressed by the attendees were:
What is the aim of the Delaware NG leadership? How can we help? How can we stay informed? Do we want another meeting? When? Who was there?
Author’s note: I tried to capture everyone, but probably missed some. Hey, I didn’t know it was going to be for the record when I did it!
Jan Churchill – New Castle City Council Bill Blest – New Castle City Council
James P. Scott Bill Fox Tom Lauppe Joe & Irene Lanahan Tenney Wheatly Bruno Muzzi Walt Powell Luke Irwin John Shearer Larry Canterra Ernie Schwab Carl Butterworth Roger Lambeth Tony Nardone Gene Consiglio Dave Jacobs Ken Wiggins Dale Dickerson Joan Holder
Col Bruce Thompson Col Ernie Talbert Col Dan Van Wyck Col Kathy Eastburn Lt Col Gil Nichols CMSgt Dan Young
Some Useful Websites:
Dod BRAC Site - http://www.dod.mil.brac Press Conference Announcement - http://www.military.com?NewsContent/o,13319.FL_bases_051305,00. html Resources for Communities – http://www.oea.gov/oeaweb.nsf/Home?OpenForm
BRAC Notes 2, Friday 3 June 2005:
This is the follow-up to the initial Retiree Briefing on the Base Realignment and Closure Committee (BRAC) given on 26 May 05. In a follow-up meeting on Friday 3 June with DANG officials we got a further update and tried to “strategize” on the role of retirees and friends of the DANG and how they could best help the efforts of the DANG leadership regarding the BRAC recommendations.
The DANG direction is to review the particulars of just how much DoD thinks this recommendation will save the taxpayer. But they also intend to explore the actual cost of this realignment (moving and closing infrastructure, material replacing personnel etc.), and weigh the monetary gains against the loss of capability and the amount of additional risk assumed by the nation in removing the flying mission from Delaware. After the calculations are complete, one must pose the question: Is it worth it? Will the economic gains offset the reduction in capability and the additional risk to our country? Can we afford to get it wrong?
They also will pursue the possibility of basing twelve C-130’s in New Castle as an alternative strategy. There is a strong belief that this is the “Right size mission in this corridor” (the area defined by a triangle from North Carolina to Rhode Island and Kentucky). They intend to make the strongest possible case that this triangle does not have any C-130 unit assets conveniently available, and that this airlift mission is needed to provide a Homeland Defense capability for airlifting Civil Support Teams, CDC assets and other critical functions in the target-rich environment of the populous and strategically important Richmond/DC/Baltimore/Philadelphia/New York megalopolis. This is the heart of our federal government, and our key financial and commercial centers, and Delaware is the fulcrum upon which it balances. The National Homeland Security Strategy needs an infrastructure protection capability, as well as a rapid response capability, and that need requires air mobility.
There is also a “functionality” argument that weighs against breaking up a flying unit into component UTC tasked pieces and spreading them out over several locations (New Castle, Dover, McGuire). The economies of scale are certainly lost at the losing location, but not necessarily gained at the gaining location, particularly if one considers the State mission, which is, after all, the root and foundation of the National Guard structure.
The whole concept of the National Guard is an organization of combat units dual-tasked to federal/state needs. If it’s individual place fillers you need for support missions then we designed the Reserve to do that function. Dismantling our flying unit removes our raison d’etre. We no longer have a unifying and defining role as an organized combat capability, and we will revert to an assortment of individuals and tiny UTC taskings not unlike the USAFR IMA program, and of little practical use to the Governor. Stripping the unit of its flying mission and more than half of its people (realigning is the polite term for this) disenfranchises the citizens of Delaware (and the surrounding states for that matter) of the ability and incentive to serve as citizen airmen. They lose an opportunity to serve. Their options are reduced to the detriment of good citizenship and the idea of national service. DoD assumptions about trained aircrew following the mission are not necessarily valid in this citizen-soldier context.
The services all report recruiting difficulties, but also report that their retention rates are near historic highs. People are hard to come by in this wartime environment, but once we give them a taste, they love what we are doing. This reinforces the idea that once we lose this capability we will have a very steep hill to climb in regaining it.
Returning to the idea which was posed by the retirees at the original briefing “How can we help?” the following was discussed as a way of making a valuable contribution:
Letters: • To the editor of your local newspapers and periodicals in Delaware and surrounding states as well • To the BRAC Commission itself at 2521 Clark South Street, Suite 600, Arlington VA 22202, or call 888-473-6120 (http://www.dod.mil.brac) • Of support to hesitant legislators, at Federal, State, County and Civic levels • Of thanks to supportive legislators and others who lend a shoulder
We recommend avoiding form letters, although in a follow-up communication, I will provide you with samples penned by DE ANG personnel. The letters you write have the most credibility when they refer to your own personal experience, (“When we deployed to the desert…”) and when you offer your professional credentials to establish your professional expertise. Use your rank/title/position. Personal anecdotes that illustrate your point (“As a former pilot, I got tired of moving my family…”) also help to make it memorable and more meaningful to the reader.
Some have argued that we must keep this effort unemotional, factual, logical and free of politics. Indeed, that is a smart way to proceed for our uniformed members. As a retiree, if you are like me, you are a member of the Retired Reserve, you get a government check once a month, and you may even still have a current security clearance. That has given me a lifetime loyalty to the Air Force in which I served. But as a citizen-airman, I have a loyalty to my State and I have citizen responsibilities to be well- informed and have my voice heard when it counts in our democracy. As retirees we have the freedom to say the things our uniformed members cannot. As citizens, we have a legitimate right to be a little emotional, and that carries some weight in politics alongside the logic and facts. The “fire in the belly” of political passion can be a powerful motivator for action among legislators if you can be heard. It gives them a reason to look a little harder for the facts and data to support the cause.
Timing: The local hearings on BRAC will be on 8 July in Baltimore. I’d like to ask you to do two very simple things. If every friend of the DANG would write one letter of support to the committee and perhaps copy his or her local elected representatives between now and the Holiday weekend of July 4th we have a good chance of getting their attention. If everyone would also write a similar letter to a local publication we would gain the sympathy and support of the citizens as well. That’s it – two letters, probably somewhat similar, and you would make a huge difference. They needn’t be long and complicated. Shorter is better. The important point is that you make yourself heard on behalf of the organization.
Be warned though. The final decision will not come until the fall, so we’ll have a few months of stirring and waiting without result. So I may appeal to you to follow up in the summer. But let’s focus on the immediate task at hand – two short letters. If you look at our last recap from the 26 May meeting we offered a number of talking points, and as they develop further I’ll offer more. Feel free to use these as bullets in your ammo belt in any combination that works for you. I suggest that you focus your arguments on one or two key points, but collectively we should be able to cover a multitude of points. Whatever works best for you, and best fits with your personal story, and your professional life as a Guardsman. And by the way, would you please copy me, and I can share your efforts and good ideas with other old friends of the DANG.
BRAC Notes Number Three: 6 June 05
This is the day we celebrate as D-Day. It is the day often recognized as the day we went onto the offensive in Europe in World War II. I’m hoping we can move over to the offensive today in our effort to correct the miscalculations of the BRAC recommendations.
At the Delaware National Guard Retired Officers Association Picnic on Saturday 4 June, we had the opportunity to hear from MG Vavala, and Brig Gen Broomall on the recent updates to the BRAC process as it relates to Delaware. General Vavala serves as the Vice President for the Adjutants General Association of the United States, and urged attendees to visit the NGAUS website http://www.ngaus. org/ to view the remarks he and others have made on behalf of the National Guard. He talked at length about the many accomplishment and the noteworthy record the DANG has compiled and the need to preserve the citizen-airman in our State.
If the BRAC recommendations are permitted to stand, we are left with an "enclave" which my dictionary describes as "a country or part of a country wholly within the boundaries of another." In other words, we are cut off and surrounded by “injuns”. The cavalry is rallying. I have spoken with Brig Gen Spruance and Lt Gen Conaway, and I want to assure you that there are many, many people working very hard to get this situation turned around. It is important to remember that the BRAC recommendations are not yet final. There is still enough slack in the process for our voice to be heard and for course corrections to avoid catastrophe.
Copies of our two previous BRAC notes were distributed to the attendees, and we were fortunate to gain the solid support of our Army National Guard comrades who asked how they could help. COL (ret) Jim Testerman volunteered to help spread the word through the Retired Delaware NG Officers Association.
Brig Gen Broomall briefed that although Delaware does not merit its own individual BRAC hearing (because it is a relocation, not a closure) the DANG leadership team would nevertheless meet on Monday the 13th with a BRAC staff member to make the case for Delaware. The local area BRAC hearings will be held on 8 July in Baltimore at 0830 in Kraushaar, Auditorium, Goucher College, 1021 Dulany Valley Road, 21204. (Participating States: Maryland, Virginia, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, so we’ll have to share the limited time allotted with many other bases and states). I am unsure if this hearing is open to the public, or only to invited officials, but I intend to find out. In the meantime, the best way we can help is to have our voice heard. At the risk of repeating myself, I’d like to ask you to do two very simple things. If every friend of the DANG would write one letter of support to the BRAC committee at the soonest opportunity before the July hearing we have a good chance of getting their attention. If everyone would also write a similar letter to a local publication we would gain the sympathy and support of the citizens as well. That’s it – two letters, probably somewhat similar, and you would make a huge difference. They needn’t be long and complicated. Shorter is better. The important point is that you make yourself heard on behalf of the organization. Letters: To the BRAC Commission itself at, 2005 Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission 2521 S. Clark St., Ste. 600 Arlington, VA 22202 http://www.brac.gov/ • To the editor of your local newspapers and periodicals in Delaware and surrounding states as well • Of support to hesitant legislators, at Federal, State, County and Civic levels • Of thanks to supportive legislators and others who lend a shoulder
Tips for Writing an Effective Letter to the Editor
We recommend avoiding form letters, although I will be happy to provide you with samples penned by DE ANG personnel at your request. We’d prefer that you pen your own letter, but we can certainly provide talking points and resources to help you get started. The letters you write have the most credibility when they refer to your own personal experience, (“When we deployed to the desert…”) and when you offer your professional credentials to establish your professional expertise. Use your rank/title/position. Personal anecdotes that illustrate your point (“As a former pilot, I got tired of moving my family…”) also help to make it memorable and more meaningful to the reader. When writing a letter to the editor, first look at the length and style of the letters that publication usually prints. Normally, letters are about 100 words. Your comment should be timely and relevant and should add something new to the discussion. It helps to refer directly to stories that were published in the paper, referencing the article’s title and date. On Sunday, the News Journal printed a very good article by Mike Billington entitled: “General:Plan takes Guard’s ‘heart”. http://www. delawareonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050605/NEWS01/506050324/1001/NEWS Your letter will usually be edited, with or without your final approval. Be sure to include your full name, your city, your organization, and your contact information so the paper can call or email you to verify that you are the author.
Below are some contacts and resources to help you get started:
Elected Officials :
For the Contact address, phone and e-mail of United States Senators: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
For the Contact address, phone and e-mail of United States Congressmen: http://www.house.gov/writerep/
For the Contact address, phone and e-mail of State Governors: http://www.nga.org/governors/1,1169,C_GOV_ADDRESS,00.html
Delaware Gov. Ruth Ann Minner Office of the Governor Tatnall Building William Penn Street Dover, DE 19901 302/744-4101
National Guard Association of the United States http://www.ngaus.org/
Military Officers Association http://www.moaa.org/
Reserve Officers Association http://www.roa.org/
Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States http://www.eangus.org/
Veteran’s of Foreign Wars http://www.vfw.org/
American Legion http://www.legion.org/
California Resources: (they have done great spadework and have lots to offer) Main website: www.omas.ca.gov/Retention.
Subscribe to news updates: http://www.omas.ca.gov/clippings/
BRAC working group weekly conference call (3 hour time difference Calif. to Delaware) http://www.omas.ca.gov/about/call.asp
Click on director's briefing here for overview of impressive pre-May 13 spadework done by organization: http://www.omas.ca.gov/director/
I’d be happy to research addition resources on your behalf at your request. I have the following resources (and a pretty good little history library) and I’d be happy to share them with anyone who is interested:
1. Draft of the Delaware Legislative Resolution regarding BRAC Closure 2. BRAC Selection Criteria 3. BRAC Force Structure Document (Unclassified) 4. ANG Flying Safety Slides (compares to USAF for 20-year period) 5. Chronological History of the DE ANG 6. Brig Gen Spruance’s letter to AFA regarding Future Total Force and the BRAC 7. Meeting Notes Recap from DE ANG Briefing to Retirees 26 May 05 8. BRAC update Number Two, 3 June 05 9. Sample Letters to the Editor
Remember, we need your urgent action on this if we are to have any hope of success. It is not a lost cause, and it is not yet a ‘done deal’. We still have a narrow window of opportunity to get past this, with your help and support.
BRAC Notes Four: 10 June 2005
Amazing Facts about the Delaware Air National Guard.
The Delaware Air National Guard has served the citizens of Delaware, the Nation, and community with valor and honor in all major military operations during the past fifty-nine years to include the Korean War, Vietnam War, OPERATIONS Desert Shield and Desert Storm, OPERATION Iraqi Freedom, OPERATION Enduring Freedom and OPERATION Noble Eagle. During the Vietnam era we flew 65% of our wartime mobilized capability in a voluntary status at a fraction of the cost if we had been mobilized, and we have continued that tradition, in every major conflict, exercise, deployment or operation, ever since. The Delaware Air Guard also served as a valuable state resource in the Civil Disturbances of the 1960’s and numerous state emergencies (hurricanes, oil spills, ice storms) over its 59-year history
Members of the Delaware Air National Guard have been awarded the Earl T. Ricks Award (twice), the McCallister Trophy as outstanding Air Transport Unit and the Spaatz Trophy as the outstanding ANG unit of the year by the AFA. It has received an Air Force Outstanding Unit citation.
The seasoned and experienced men and women of the Delaware Air National Guard have accumulated over 37, 400 combat flying hours and a total of over 231,000 flying hours, and 41 years since their last accident. Our flying squadron has a total of over 878 years of cumulative aviation experience.
This experience pays off in a measure of our professionalism –flying safety. The Annual Average Accident Rate for Class A mishaps in the Air National Guard is about one sixteenth that of the U.S. Air Force. A rate per hundred thousand flying hours of .03 in the ANG vs. .48 in the Air Force.
While most of our members hail from the immediate area of New Castle County (51%) almost a third reside in the immediate surrounding states (28%), only 15% are from “downstate” Delaware (Kent and Sussex Counties). This is a reason to write to out-of-state publications and make the residents aware of the BRAC impact in places like Elkton Maryland, West Chester Pennsylvania, and Penn’s Grove New Jersey. They stand to lose jobs too.
Some Quotes from Leadership
Air Force acting Secretary Michael Dominguez said the Air Force values the partnership among its active, Guard and Reserve pilots and crewmembers. The BRAC recommendations will position the reserve components "for leading roles in a variety of emerging, in-demand, warfighting missions."
Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Dominguez defended the BRAC recommendations. “The Guard needs to be consolidated at fewer locales because it is too dispersed — "not ... an effective and efficient way to operate an expeditionary Air Force," he told the base-closing commission last month. He added that the active-duty Air Force, not the Guard, had withstood the brunt of the closures in previous base- closing rounds in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995. Guard leaders complain that they were cut out of senior- level meetings of active-duty Air Force officers who helped select which bases to close while mapping out future Air Force plans. Some Guard units may have to take on different missions, according to ANG Director General Daniel James. But the force will not be reduced because "BRAC only affects infrastructure. It doesn't eliminate people, missions and jobs," he said.
While acknowledging that Defense Department recommendations could affect 30 Guard flying units with closures or realignments, General James said this is only the opening round and that "if your flying mission is affected, I will do everything I can to secure a future mission that is relevant and funded."
"I will work hard with the Air Force to see that each state is covered with appropriate missions which provide for both state and federal roles and the homeland security aspects of each, and I will distribute a transition plan as soon as possible," he said.
A Personal View
After about 18 years as a traditional Delaware Air Guardsman, I spent nearly twenty more years in the ANG Directorate, and the NGB Joint Staff. I have been very proud to be in the ANG and consider it to be the best reserve component of all, as a result of inspired Air Force leadership that partnered with the ANG to fully fund a C-1 organization that took the Total Force Policy seriously. To quote Brig Gen (ret) William Spruance, “The current effort to save money short-range, overlooks the impact long-range. The first former member of Congress to serve as Secretary of Defense, Melvin Laird, 1973 to 1977, faced with budget cuts like today, initiated the Total Force Concept, requiring the regular establishment to put more resources in the Guard and Reserve as an economical measure. The Air Force led all the services in implementing this policy, following direction from the then Secretary of the Air Force.”
In the past when we have had seismic changes (like re-allocating 40 C-130s) it would have been the result of a force structure study, or the QDR, or a similar initiative. There always was a give and take between the Air Staff and the Bureau, a negotiation or debate that resulted in some compromise. As a component we were given a measure of respect by our parent service unparalleled in the other services and components. There was a marked contrast between the Army and Air Force methodology when building the Total Force. The BRAC realignment of New Castle is based partly upon the Air Force “Total Future Force” initiative. As I reviewed the literature on the Total Future Force, I could find no mention of a movement to re-base the C-130 fleet at the expense of the ANG. Mostly, it talks about future integration of the active and reserve components.
My sense is that the Air Force leadership no longer respects the ANG enough to discuss such matters, and conveniently chose to place the force structure realignment behind the protective screen of secrecy of the BRAC process. When revealed to all, it is a "fait accompli." about which there can be no debate, no discussion, and no compromise. No one in the National Guard seems to have seen this one coming, no one was prepared for it, and no one is in a position to adequately contend with it, due to short timing and the lack of data to refute, or challenge the recommendations. It was an utter surprise, so there could not have been any debate, discussion, or negotiation. It brings to mind the 1997 QDR force structure fight between the Army and the ARNG.
Speaking to a former Chief, NGB he told me that, “none of us here understands the actions of the BRAC except to attempt to use it as a force management tool in doing what might be otherwise impossible in the normal run of activities. As you are aware, the BRAC does not have that as a primary purpose. That is why this process is likely fatally flawed.”
Although this maneuver may neatly save the Air Staff from having to listen to ANG whining, ultimately it destroys a more than fifty-year record of forward progress. It feels like getting lied to by your father. Now this is just a personal theory, and I may have the details of the situation wrong. One thing I know for sure -Delaware had no say in this matter, and no one was representing us at the table. The National Guard has Constitutional foundations as a sovereign and separate state military component. The Future Total Force fails to recognize this important distinction. Gen. Spruance: “In my 69 years in the military I have spent a large portion of my time ensuring that the federal military establishment complies with their oath of office to defend the Constitution, which includes the militia clause and neutralize any plan to federalize the National Guard because of new weapons systems, inadequate funds, force structure, or managerial innovations.”
The Air Force initiative to rebase the ANG aircraft may, or may not be, a move that is in the best interests of the nation, but making it a unilateral under-the-table deal does far more damage to the larger institution than any temporary gains won. (I apologize for my immodest choice of words here, but it is liberating to be retired, and really say what you think.) The worst insult of all is the label of "re-alignment" when in fact it is tantamount to casing our flag. The Director ANG speaks about a “transition plan” which does not yet seem to exist. So, we are evidently making this thing up as we go along. Because it is not a "closing”, our New Castle situation does not even merit a hearing by the committee. We are left with an "enclave" which my dictionary describes as "a country or part of a country wholly within the boundaries of another." In other words, we are cut off and surrounded by our foes. But it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
There is daylight.
Another former Chief, NGB told me that “I am working to see what I can do to help mitigate this BRAC. The Single State flying units should have not been in play, except to plus-up. It was a big mistake. I have visited with the BRAC members.”
Some 15 to 20 percent of military bases scheduled for closing could be spared by the Base Realignment and Closure commission, said former U.S. Rep. James Bilbray, a BRAC commission member. "Once you close (a base), you're not going to get it back," said Bilbray of Nevada, a Bush appointee and attorney who specializes in government issues.
To quote Brig Ben Spruance – our immediate task is to sway a majority of the members of the BRAC and get a vote that favors the Delaware Air National Guard. So pick up that pen, turn on that computer, and let them hear our voice. Give them a reason to reflect on their priorities and make the necessary adjustments that will ensure both an economical solution and one that ensures the security of Delaware and the nation.
As a sort of appendix to this BRAC Note I’m also attaching a paper that describes the BRAC process in some detail. It is worth reviewing, because it does an excellent job of outlining the timetable and the distinct steps to the process. It is an eight-step process and we just entered phase two on 13 May.
More to come. In the next Note I’ll be providing sample letters, as requested, from which you can freely borrow.
BRAC Notes 5, 14 June 2005
Yesterday I was privileged to attend a BRAC Hearing at New Castle County Airport at the 166th Airlift Wing Headquarters as our DANG Retiree Representative. There were three parts to the hearing. A brief “executive session” with the senior participants, followed by a plenary session to provide the broad overview, and finally after a recess, a “BRAC working group” met to discuss the details of the data. I attended only the plenary session, and my notes reflect only those proceedings.
The key BRAC attendees were:
Mr. Jim Hanna BRAC Analyst Ms. Ashley Buzzell BRAC Associate Analyst
(Both of these individuals have Delaware ties: Mr. Hanna until recently was a Delaware resident, and Ms. Buzzell has a daughter in college at the University of Delaware.)
Key military attendees were:
MG Vavala Brig Gen Broomall
Key Elected Representatives included:
Governor Minner Senator Biden Senator Carper Representative Castle New Castle County Executive Chris Coons (a future U.S. Senator)
The testimony was led off by Congressman Mike Castle who was under a time constraint to return to Washington for a key vote. His remarks included a reference to his time as the Governor and the many times he had visited New Castle to see a returning deployment. He stressed how much he had relied upon the Guard when he served as Governor. He expressed his great surprise and shock at the BRAC recommendation to realign the Delaware ANG.
Congressman Castle went on to articulate his concern for our security as an 800- mile segment of a key part of the country would remain without airlift capability if the recommendations are followed. He elaborated on the key population, commerce and government facilities located in this key sector. He noted his eight years of service on the House Intelligence Committee and his concern for the nation as a whole, as well as his particular concern for the State of Delaware should we lose our airlift capability. He said that he “did not understand the “enclave” concept, and that he had seen no evidence of a budget requirement, or a mission statement so far. He expressed concern over the matter of how to attract and retain qualified personnel with a vague mission. He concluded by expressing the community appreciation for the kinds of service the ANG delivers to our state.
After the departure of Congressman Castle, General Vavala gave the formal introductions and pleasantries followed by a briefing on the impact of the BRAC Proposals. He spoke wearing two hats – as the Adjutant General of Delaware and as the Vice President of the Adjutants General Association (AGAUS) expressing some concerns from that group as a whole.
General Vavala stressed that the Delaware National Guard supports the original BRAC process, but added that two things in particular were lacking in the process as it evolved – inclusion and equity, especially on the part of the U.S. Air Force. Unlike the other services, USAF did not involve the ANG in the process. Neither he nor the Governor was consulted at any time in the process. Speaking for the AGAUS he said on their behalf that the organization’s stance is a minimum of one flying unit per state. Anything less, he said, fails to produce efficiencies when weighed against the costs and risks taken. He labeled the result a short term solution that creates a long term mistake. He stressed our primary role in homeland security and expressed great concern on our ability to do this task under the realignment. He then introduced Senator Biden.
Senator Biden prefaced his remarks by saying that they were focused upon the federal mission, saying that Governor Minner would talk at length about the state mission. Senator Biden began his remarks by noting his long tenure in office and his consistent support of the BRAC process in previous rounds. He alluded to the Goldwater-Nichols Act and the impact that it had on reorganizing DoD. He presented his experience traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan five times in the past few years. He noted that a very large proportion of the force structure “downrange” is National Guard and called it a critically important element. He fondly recalled how he would occasionally meet crews who would call him “Joe” to the surprise of the brass. He explained that these crews were hometown folks from his state and that this was simply the way things were done in Delaware. He emphasized that these Delawareans were the “real deal”.
Senator Biden then rhetorically asked how we could carry on in a missionless “enclave”? He stressed his concern regarding the war-fighting ability of the United States without such people. He averred that the War in Iraq was far from over and predicted a minimum of two more years of combat. He asked how we could afford to lose 36 trained pilots in such a context. He asked how we could fail to recognize the value and the contribution of the Delaware ANG. The Senator wondered how we could possibly retain talent as an “enclave”. He urged the attendees to look past this war to the next conflict. He alluded to his recent visit to Chad and his discussion there regarding the situation at Darfour and the need for airlift and armed soldiers to maintain the peace and save ¾ million lives.
Senator Biden mentioned his lifelong experience as a politician and said the he understood politics, and suggested that there was no mystery in the motive driven by the Air Force desire to move newer C- 130s from the ANG to the active component. “Where do we get ‘em? he rhetorically asked. He stated that, “the reason the Air Force didn’t talk to us, is because they couldn’t look us in the eye.” He warned that soon we would be in a new debate over an updated Goldwater-Nichols Act that would discuss how we maintain a standing armed force and square it with a state militia. He concluded by offering an observation about the Congress. In previous BRACs there have always been stirred up legislators whose districts and states were affected, but observed that he had never seen negative buzz like that being generated now, mostly he said, “over the little pieces”, especially when linked to a lack of candidness. He seemed to suggest that although the BRAC process is sound, a lack of candor and equity could trip them up.
Senator Biden then introduced Governor Minner. Governor Minner began her remarks by recalling to her lifelong attachment to the Guard as a “Wednesday Night Widow”, as her husband attended drills in the 50s and 60s. She spoke of the importance of the Delaware Air National Guard and its role in almost continuing deployment since 9/11. She talked about how Guardsmen put their lives on the line, leaving their families and jobs to serve.
She bluntly said, “The Pentagon has not been forthright.” She said that there had been no inclusion, and that the process lacked transparency. She was not consulted by Secretary Rumsfeld or anyone else. She noted that background material and supporting documents were absent. She described the process as sidestepping the governor’s authority to veto a closure by the semantics of labeling the move as a realignment resulting in an “enclave”.
Governor Minner elaborated on the serious impacts of this realignment on Homeland Security. She spoke of the proven resources the ANG brings to the table during state emergencies. She discussed disasters man-made and natural and her responsibility to respond to them. Limiting her ability to respond is counterproductive. She offered supporting material from her Secretaries for Healthcare, and Homeland Security. She avowed as to the impact of a reduction in resources would severely impact her ability to exercise and implement emergency plans, and offered the loss of the 142nd AME as especially severe. She then introduced Senator Carper.
Senator Carper referred to May 14 when the Unit had a Change of Command Ceremony the day after the BRAC recommendations were publicly released. He sat next to MG Vavala and said that, “If the recommendations make sense, then they were the right thing to do”. He then posed the question, “Do these recommendations make sense?”
He followed up by asking rhetorically: Are we making the right choice if we leave no C-130s between Rhode Island and North Carolina? If our trained aircrews are lost? If our experienced maintainers are lost? If we increase our recruiting and retention problems? He expressed great concern over what he termed, “a backdoor closing”. And suggested that it was obvious that this route would lead to the onset of a “death spiral” for the DANG. Senator Carper then introduced County Executive Coons.
New Castle County Executive Chris Coons reminded the BRAC attendees that last year the DANG had survived a tornado at the base and remarked on the remarkable response of the men and women tot quickly restore an operational capability. He then spoke of May 14th when he attended the Change of Command Ceremony “under a pall of doom and loss worse that any tornado strike.”
Mr. Coons went on to offer a number of statistics regarding the economic impact on the county ($27.5 million) construction projects, jobs, local vendors, establishments, shops and restaurants dependent upon the presence of the DANG. He described a very tight-knit community with dozens of inter-dependent relationships. He described the very high value of the fire fighting capability to the county and suggested a civilian replacement would cost multi-millions. He characterized the DANG as “irreplaceable.”
He also highlighted the fact that New Castle County has mutual aid agreements with the six surrounding counties but that NCC is often the focus and lead for regional emergency planning because it has an infrastructure that is unmatched by the other counties in terms of hospital capacity, and of course a relatively big airport with great facilities for first responders. He described the BRAC impact as much larger than his immediate County.
Executive Coons described New Castle County Airport as a center of economic vitality in a relatively depressed part of the County. He repeated Senator Carper’s question – “Does this make sense?” “Will we lose an opportunity for our citizens to serve? Will this make us less safe?” He concluded by stressing the “Spirit of Delaware” as a thoughtful, fair, and balanced heritage.
MG Vavala ended the plenary meeting by saying that in the working session the BRAC attendees would see compelling data, supportive documentation and facts that would help them make a fair judgment, in the working group to follow.
This concludes my report. If I get further information of the details of the working group or an opinion about how it went from other key attendees I will share them with you. My personal assessment is that our elected officials are unanimously on our side and they made some compelling arguments that will help the BRAC Commission to make a fair assessment. I’m also told with confidence by our leadership that the facts and figures solidly back up our case for the Governor, for the County Executive and for the organization.
BRAC Notes 6: 16 June 2005
In previous BRAC Notes I have encouraged our friends to write letters to our public officials. I have endeavored to provide you with a continuous stream of data, talking points and news that would provide ammunition for our cause. We’ve also tried to avoid “form letters” because we want to have the greatest possible impact. Nevertheless, many people have a tough time getting started, so with some reluctance I am providing a series of sample letters generously provided by some of our friends which I hope will be the spark that gets you taking pen in hand or firing up your computer. You can cut and past these letters or parts of these letters as you see fit. Freely steal all the best ideas we have and share them with others. And please share with me your efforts to add to our library of ideas and thoughts.
Faithfully yours, Brig Gen Kennard R. Wiggins Jr. (DE Ret) Scribe, Old Friends of Delaware ANG 504 Blacksnake Road Elkton MD 21921 410-398-0742
DANG “Fall Guy”
ATTN: Anthony Principi, Chairman 2521 Clark South Street , Suite 600 Arlington, VA22202
I am a decorated Vietnam Veteran. Upon completion of my commitment to the Active Duty Air Force as a pilot, my family and I moved from California to Delaware to enjoy the quality of east coast life, to pursue a civilian non-flying career and to become a Citizen-soldier with The Delaware Air National Guard where I could continue to contribute my flying skills. I flew C-97's, C-130A's and went to Desert Storm in C-130 H's. What we were flying were the Airplanes the Air Force said they "didn't need or want" - yet the Delaware Air Guard had to be activated in order to get the equipment that the Air Force said they needed to do the job.
Now the Air Force is asking the BRAC Commission to make the Delaware Air National Guard the "fall guy” under the guise of saving us money - somewhere in the future. The Air Guard portion of the Air Force Budget is about 6%, and the projected savings will be an infinitesimal amount of that percentage. We must ask how much military capability are we giving up, and how much more risk are we assuming to save a relatively insignificant amount of money? When the Air Guard is gone, will the governor still have the resources needed to support state emergencies?
Once the Airplanes are gone - they are GONE - the State Militia has been “gutted" and we Delawareans are the losers. I do not want to see my children or grandchildren deprived of the opportunity to serve as patriotic citizen-soldiers in their local community. It is tough enough to meet the recruitment needs of our military services without doing away with the citizen-soldier. (If it ain't broke - don't fix it.) If we do not stop the process now - can a “draft" be far behind?
Lt. Col. (Retired) Tenney H. Wheatley, Jr.
Loss of Community
I was a member of the ARNG for over 32 years and also a full-time employees.. During that time, our ANG performance was always outstanding; they were and still are one of the best. My purpose in writing is to point out something which I feel this recommendation may not have considered, and a point which I believe is vital to any NG unit, whether ARNG or ANG. First the NG like the AD is an all volunteer force; however our ability to recruit depends entirely on a very small area for members. Unlike the AD, NG units are part of the community, and without them the citizens have no one in uniform to talk with about the need for our military. They are the best PR for the need for a strong military. This PR is vital not only for the recruitment and retention for the NG but also for the AD. Many years ago, the NG had units on DuPont Street, Scott Street and A Street in the city. We also had units in Newark, Claymont and I think 2 units in New Castle. These facilities were not only used for military training, they were used by the community for social and places for our children to get off the street, we were PART of the community’s life, and we were part of the family. Then they were all moved to the airbase, WOW we lost our community function, we lose the feeling of pride that the unit was a Claymont unit that was better than the units in Wilmington, New Castle, and Newark. We must remember when the NG is called to AD, the support for their family is the community. They help with the children, they provide car pools, they help the wife with the grass, shopping, getting children to the doctor, etc. NG members are going to think twice before enlisting when their unit is not connected to a community to support their family, many having young children. Whether I was at a picnic, church, barber shop, store, etc., I was always asked, what do you think about this or that, we are the PR for all the military, and quite frankly, the AD would be in bad trouble without this grass roots PR.
Commission Deciding Air Guard’s Future Suffers Amnesia
The Delaware Air National Guard is an integral part of the U.S. Air Force. It flies Air Force missions as a part of its daily operations and for the past two years has been flying missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in the Iraq war theater. That is by plan. The Delaware Air National Guard base is an especially important one in our national defense because of it’s strategic location near the Atlantic Coast. The Ai r National Guard makes up 34% of the Total Air Force. Some of the men and women in the Air Guard began their military service with the Guard, but many members joined the Guard after completing Air Force tours. Millions of dollars have spent on their training. If the aircraft are moved to another site, some of the Delaware Air Guard members will attempt to follow them, but most will not. They are patriots, and they will try to find a new place to serve, but many will be lost. Most are firmly established in civilian jobs in this area and will not move to continue their military duty. The beauty of the system has been that Air Guard units in various regions of the country captured the military experience available in that region. A radical move of the aircraft such as is threatened, and the loss of the talent of the men and women in this area is a horrible waste of money and talent.
It would be nice if the world was peaceful, but it is not. It is not if there will be another conflagration after Iraq, but when. The system developed several years ago called the Total Force Initiative tied together the Air Force and the Air National Guard. It has worked. It saves you money since you are not paying for a large full time Air Force. The BRAC co0mmission seems to have forgotten how successful this system is. We are talking about your protection. We are talking about national defense. You need to be concerned and contact your elected officials. The BRAC commission is jeopardizing a military system which was designed to protect you and your families. History shows that the military makes cuts after a major war. History also shows that before long the force must be expanded, thus eliminating any financial gain for the cutback, but increasing cost because new people must be trained. The BRAC Commission seems to be suffering from amnesia.
Brig Gen H. Philip Goettel (Ret)
BRAC Impact on Maryland Cecil Whig: To the Editor
Our County officials are celebrating the projected growth of Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Harford County as an engine of growth that will have positive impacts on our County. I'd like to remind Cecil Countians that another scenario is working to our disadvantage in another neighboring County. Under the Base Realignment and Closing Committee (BRAC) recommendations, the Delaware Air National Guard stands to lose its flying mission and reduce its strength by about half, to become in Department of Defense terms, an "enclave." This is a "virtual" closing that will end the nearly sixty-year history of this flying unit which has served (and continues to serve) with distinction in every major conflict since World War II.
Why should Cecil Countians care? About 100 members of the Delaware Air National Guard reside in Maryland. Their jobs are endangered and their future is uncertain despite their sacrifice on behalf of the nation. Many Cecil Countians are unaware that the Delaware Air Guard is an important emergency resource for them, thanks to inter-state and inter-county pacts that make the resources of the Delaware Air Guard available to us in emergencies and disasters.
I hope our responsible officials will keep this important fact in mind at the Regional BRAC hearings to be held on July 8th in Baltimore. I urge them to support the survival of the Delaware Air National Guard on behalf of the citizens of Cecil County.
Brig Gen Kennard R. Wiggins, Jr. (DE Ret)
Troubled and Concerned
Chairman Anthony J. Principi Base Realignment and Closure Commission 2521 South Clark Street Suite 600 Arlington, VA 22202
Dear Chairman Principi and BRAC Commissioners:
I am deeply troubled by the Defense Department's recommendation to realign the 166 Airlift Wing, New Castle County Airport, New Castle, Delaware Air National Guard base. This recommendation is a terrible mistake and I urge the BRAC Commission reverse this decision and remove them from the list.
It is hard to understand why the Air Force has decided to take planes, missions and jobs away from so many Air Guard and Air Reserve bases and put them on more costly Active Duty bases. Our installation and its’ people have more than proved it’s’ value and its’ worth over the years in its support of all DoD and Air Force missions around the world,
Also, how will the Department defend the region, or will the Guard respond to man-made or natural disasters, when they occur after these massive cuts?
I urge the Commission in the strongest possible terms to remove the 166th Airlift Wing from the Pentagon's recommended list of base closures and to stop the continuing retreat of the military from our region of the country.
Chairman Anthony J. Principi Base Realignment and Closure Commission 2521 South Clark Street Suite 600 Arlington, VA 22202
The Honorable Anthony J. Principi, As a retired (Branch of Service - Rank), I wish to share with you my concerns over the possible realignment of the Delaware Air National Guard installation in New Castle, DE. Although I do have a personal interest in the continued operation of this facility, for military ID’s, and exchange shopping, they are far more important to our community and our nation. Within the community, the Delaware Air National Guard base represents a significant and vital component of our economy. Although we are blessed with a steady and growing tourism industry, a significant part of that industry involves the Air National Guard base. Removal of the base and the resultant loss of military salaries, base jobs, base contracts for goods and services, would put a tremendous strain on the rest of the economy to sustain the infrastructure of County and municipal services. We would also suffer the loss many highly skilled members of the work force who would be forced to seek opportunities for employment elsewhere. This loss will severely affect the economic recovery in the area. Training of our military is more important now than at anytime in the past thirty years since the end of the Vietnam War. With the worldwide threat against our citizens overseas, our war on terrorism and the need for trained active and reserve military personnel performing duties related to Homeland Defense, the 166th Airlift Wing is an asset too valuable to discard. The Delaware Air National Guard base is a training facility second to none, modern, up-to-date, and has the capability to expand and accommodate larger numbers of personnel. I urge you to support our bases and exert whatever influence you can bring to bear to keep them at the New Castle County Airport. Sincerely,
Chairman Anthony J. Principi Base Realignment and Closure Commission 2521 South Clark Street Suite 600 Arlington, VA 22202
The Honorable Anthony J. Principi, I am very concerned about the BRAC Commission’s decision to realign the 166th Airlift Wing at the New Castle County Airport, Delaware. I do not believe the Commission is fully aware of the unique attributes that the 166th Airlift Wing offers to our national defense. These include an abundance of the most experienced and skilled personnel, their homeland defense role, and their commitment to serving this country. In addition to the military value to the nation, the 166th Airlift Wing has been supported over the last 50 years by the local communities like no other in the country. We consider Delaware Air National Guard a part of our family. The realignment of the Delaware Air National Guard base will also have a devastating impact on our economy. It has been estimated that the area will lose at least 50 percent of its workforce, plus the ripple effect that we will have on our public and higher education systems. Please reconsider all the facts before making your final decision. Respectfully Yours,
Chairman Anthony J. Principi Base Realignment and Closure Commission 2521 South Clark Street Suite 600 Arlington, VA 22202
The Honorable Anthony J. Principi, The business and professional communities of New Castle County have been the beneficiaries of several briefings given by a group of local citizens concerning the possible realignment of the Delaware Air National Guard military installation. These presentations emphasized the military value of our 166th Airlift Wing base in a more effective and smaller defense structure. This value is what prompted me to write this letter. Like all things familiar, we tend to take our base for granted and do not always realize just how much they contribute to our national defense. The Delaware Air National Guard base supports DoD and all military missions and they can figure prominently in a "good sense" solution to the country's military structure of the future. Based on the facts presented, the 166th Airlift Wing is efficient, has room to expand and does not suffer from encroachment. We in the business community are often accused of paying attention only to the economic side of the closure issue. Dollars are important, but in these times of increased threats and the resulting increase in demand for a well-trained military, we must look at the contribution of each base for our national security, over and above dollars spent in the local economy. It seems to me the Delaware Air National Guard more than pull their weight in any equation promoting efficiency and readiness in our defense structure. I urge you to lend your support in keeping them at the New Castle County Airport. Sincerely,
Chairman Anthony J. Principi Base Realignment and Closure Commission 2521 South Clark Street Suite 600 Arlington, VA 22202
The Honorable Anthony J. Principi, I urge you to convey my interest in maintaining the 166th Airlift Wing military installation, located in New Castle, DE. This installation is the model of joint use base facilities whose strengths include: • Working Joint operations including all services • Critical/strategic location near all Northeast Corridor major metropolitan and port areas • Vital part of Homeland Defense & Security for the East Coast • Huge economic impact to our local region • Available for Emergency Preparedness and operations. • Strong community support I appreciate your representation and thank you for conveying this strong message.
Detailed Facts and Figures Dear ,
I am writing this letter in the regards to the proposed realignment of the 166th Airlift Wing’s eight C- 130H aircraft. It is inconceivable to me that the Department of Defense has chosen to realign the wing’ s aircraft to two other units in two different states. The rational for this begins with the Air Force’s analysis that the “166th Airlift Wing has little or no military value” in the defense of our nation.” I beg to differ. This wing has a long and glorious history of service to the people of this state and nation. The wing has received two Presidential Unit Citations for exceptional service and has won numerous awards and competitions for excellence in flying and maintaining its aircraft. I’ve been a part of this wing for over twenty years and have watched this wing’s C-130 flyers and maintainers turn this wing into the best, bar none, C-130 wing the Air Force has ever seen. We’ve accumulated over 69,000 accident free flying hours on this aircraft, served in three separate conflicts with distinction and continue to deploy in support of the Global War on Terrorism. It is indeed ironic that the five out of seven C-130 wings that volunteered to serve in the current war on terrorism are to have their aircraft taken away while other wings that did not volunteer to serve remain intact.
I am positive you are fully aware of the fact the Air National Guard only consumes 6 per cent of the Air Force budget. This wing has always done its utmost best to conserve resources expended and give the Air Force the best bang for its buck and will continue to do so given the opportunity. In that light, I suggest that we keep this wing operational. I suggest the Delaware Air National Guard, which is centrally located on the east coast, be plussed up to 12 C-130s and absorb the flyers and maintainers from the Baltimore and Willow Grove units since they are slated to lose their aircraft as well. This move will keep highly qualified C-130 flyers and maintainers in the Air National Guard and it will help with the recruiting effort for this wing and the Air National Guard.
Sir, it goes without saying that taking Air National Guard aircraft away will cut out the heart and soul of this wing and the Air National Guard. It will deprive the Air Force of premier assets to continue the fight against the War on Global Terrorism. The loss of personnel will have a negative impact on this state’s and other states’ ability to recover from natural disasters or help out in case of civil disturbances. I ask that you work with Senators Biden and Representative Castle to ensure that the Base Realignment and Closure Commission are made aware of the contributions we have made to national security. I ask that you all make the commission aware of our ability to continue to make a significant contribution to national defense in the future at a cost far below that of active duty wings with C-130 aircraft. I ask that you convince the commission that this wing is of “military value” and will continue to be of “military value” far into the future. The Air Force cannot afford to lose a wing of our caliber and continue to meet its commitments given the uncertainty of future conflicts that will require well maintained aircraft and highly qualified crews.
BRAC Talking Points:
Process Concerns: Lack of Inclusion Lack of Equity Lack of Data/Documentation Inconsistent Metrics (MCI) false assumptions, weighted scoring Semantics to avoid otherwise mandatory actions (Realignment vs. Closure – “enclave” description for missionless organization)
Legal Issues Title 10 USC req.“to gain consent of the governor” for relocation or withdrawal Constitutional foundation of the National Guard as a sovereign construct
Institutional Issues Destruction of trust, and discarding AF Total Force Construct Rebalancing “standing army” /”militia” citizen-soldier
Federal Impacts: ANG leadership/Adjutant General not consulted Lack of Airlift assets in triangle RI/NC/KY Target-rich Northeastern Corridor a Homeland Security Concern Protection of key facilities, critical infrastructure Projected loss of valuable combat experienced aircrew experience in wartime Projected loss of highly proficient experienced maintenance personnel Loss of Community Support, Discarding Total Force Construct Shrinking recruiting base, loss opportunity to serve “Enclave” = Loss of functionality, individual UTCs, loss of economies of scale National Guard Construct organized around units, not personnel
State Impacts: Governor not consulted Loss to Governor of key assets Homeland Security Response Lessened ability to exercise and implement emergency plans Lessened Disaster Response, especially medical Lessened response to Regional/Interstate Emergency Assistance Compacts
County Impacts: Direct loss of jobs Loss of firefighting capability at NCC Airport, replacement in $ millions Economic impact on community, jobs, contractors and vendors Lessened ability to respond to inter-county emergency plans in six county area
Economics/Efficiencies Costs vs. Gains = Reduced Capability/Risk Assumed Not reducing airplanes, just moving = no savings, Cost of replacing trained and combat-experienced personnel
Respectfully Submitted, Brig Gen Kennard R. Wiggins Jr., (DE ANG Ret) Scribe, Old Friends of the Delaware Air National Guard 504 Blacksnake Road Elkton Maryland 21921 410-398-0742
POSTSCIPT Delaware base rebirth follows BRAC battle Thursday, 26 November 2009 09:19
The sights and sounds of heavy construction have become familiar in the past few years at the Delaware National Guard base inside New Castle Airport.
Earth movers are shifting soil so geo-thermal loop piping can be installed beneath a new aviation support facility for the Army Guard.
Not far from there, workers are two months into a 12-month schedule to build a Network Warfare Squadron facility for the Air Guard, one of three in the country dedicated to the emerging field of cyber- security.
Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, overall commander of the state's Air and Army Guard units, doesn't mind the noise. To him, the groan of heavy equipment and shouts from contractors are the sounds of success. Four-and-a-half years ago, the base was on the federal Base Realignment and Closure list under a plan that would have reassigned the fleet of C-130 airplanes belonging to the Air Guard to bases in North Carolina and Georgia, effectively grounding the 166th Airlift Wing.
Those dark days are over.
Delaware's reserve operation is experiencing a renaissance as the federal government pumps millions of dollars into the base for capital improvements.
Guard officials and elected leaders say the influx of cash for long overdue projects is a clear indication that the base is healthy, here to stay and recognized as an important asset by the Department of Defense. The 166th last week was graded "excellent" -- the second highest grade -- by the Air Force for its operational readiness.
"We fought extremely hard," Vavala said, recalling the difficult BRAC process. "We were able to overturn that recommendation. What we see out there today in construction really validates what we fought for."
The Guard's vitality is felt beyond its security gates and into the community, where area businesses are benefitting from base activity. At nearby Pat's Pizza on Basin Road, most of the weekday lunch rush is from the base.
"Every first and 15th of the month, we get big crowds from over there for the weekends," owner Chris Zidas said. "Thank God they didn't close."
Construction projects related to renovation at the base are a boon for the business community as well, said Mark Kleinschmidt, president of the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce. He cited the jobs created not only for the people serving in the Guard, but those in support and contracting. "All that activity has a multiplier effect," he said. "There are over 500 folks on the base for weekend training, and they are using local businesses."
In May 2005, the Delaware National Guard was listed among 62 major military bases and 775 smaller installations targeted by the Pentagon for closing or consolidation. The plan by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to strip the base of its planes would have weakened the state's ability to handle emergencies and homeland security -- one of the main functions of the Guard.
"That would have left us as an Air Guard with no airplanes," U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., said. "It's hard to be an Air Guard when you have no airplanes."
The unit was saved through negotiations by Guard leaders, former Gov. Ruth Ann Minner and the state's congressional delegation, including Carper, U.S. Rep. Mike Castle and then-Sen. Joe Biden. Drawing on their collective experience as governors in charge of the Guard, Carper and Castle testified before the commission about the value of the air unit.
So did Vavala and Brig. Gen. Hugh Broomall, deputy adjutant general for the Delaware Air National Guard. Their first task was to disprove the information used by the Department of Defense to place Delaware on the BRAC list. That included the notion that moving the planes would help increase readiness and save money without hurting recruitment efforts.
"We presented loads of documents that refuted their basic assumptions," Broomall said. "We had to attack the model being used and refute the data."
In hindsight, Carper thinks the BRAC process was good. Not only did it leave the Air Guard intact, but it helped tighten Delaware's thread in the fabric of state and national security. "We did our homework and we were able to blow the secretary's recommendation out of the water," Carper said. "That was an important presentation."
With the threat of closure behind them, Guard and elected leaders resumed the push they started before BRAC to modernize their facilities. The Army Guard has a helicopter maintenance hangar that was built in the 1970s, lacks digital capability and doesn't have enough room to shelter all 14 of its Black Hawks. The Air Guard also has an outdated hangar that is too small for the newer, longer version of the C-130 planes. And both units share headquarters inside an old elementary school in Pike Creek, miles away from the base.
To date, more than $138 million has been committed to capital projects for the Air and Army Guard. The money is being funded in phases, all from the Department of Defense.
"It's the correct stewardship of this money," Broomall said. "We were ignored for a long time. Now the stars are aligned."
Broomall is especially excited about construction, which began in August, on a $3.2 million building that will house the 166th Network Warfare Squadron, a unit to safeguard the security of the digital information systems that keep everything in America running -- from traffic lights to satellites. Those are the systems most vulnerable to attack in modern times as conflicts become less about brute force and more about computer skills.
Last spring, President Barack Obama announced a sweeping new cyber-security policy, including the creation of a White House cyber-security coordinator and a Cyber Command within the Department of Defense. Delaware is among the first three units in the country assigned to support Cyber Command. The others are Washington and Kansas.
Delaware is uniquely positioned for the Network Warfare Squadron, Broomall said, because of the intellectual pool here.
The banking, pharmaceutical and chemical industries here provide plenty of recruits with the expertise to do the job.
"The first 60 we recruited, we had no trouble," he said. "What we do draws the people to us." The chamber also put together the Delaware Defense Alliance Roundtable, a series of workshops designed to help area businesses learn how to qualify for the bid process and get in on other opportunities associated with growth at the Guard base, Dover Air Force Base and Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, where thousands of jobs will be transferred as a result of BRAC. Carper puts the base's strength into perspective, citing data that roughly half of U.S. troops are Guard and reserve. Add the capability of Dover Air Force Base, and Delaware is "the epicenter of airlift," he said.
"The major reason why money is being poured in here is because Delaware is a great place to do airlift from," Carper said. "We've got the location on the mid-Atlantic, right on the coast. We've got huge, terrific support. There's a great story here for Delaware."
"The future is bright for our Delaware National Guard," he said. "We don't think this thing is going to end any time soon."
By Angie Basiourt
Would you like to know more? We recommend the following books available at local Delaware bookstores and from Arcadia Publishing.
Delaware Air National Guard The Delaware Air National Guard got its start when a group of World War II veterans formed a new National Guard unit composed of surplus airplanes, combat experience, a measure of hard work, camaraderie, and fun. Some called this assemblage a gentleman’s flying club, but in a few short years, it was tested for the first time in the Korean War. Since then, the Delaware Air National Guard has flown and fought in almost every corner of the globe. It answered the call in Vietnam, the Middle East, the Balkans, and most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan. Celebrating 60 years of service, it has become a well-known local institution. The “Blue Hen Air Force” has evolved into a professional organization that shoulders a significant operational role for the U.S. Air Force and serves as a versatile emergency resource for the state of Delaware.