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C-130 News: 440th Airlift Wg's inactivation halted, for now, by committee agreement

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Senate and House Armed Services Committee leaders have come to an agreement to halt the inactivation of the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Field, said U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.

The agreement announced Wednesday would stop all C-130H and C-130J aircraft transfers until 60 days after the Air Force issues a report outlining a justification of the decision. It would also mandate an independent review of the Air Force's report by the Government Accountability Office and a Congressional review.

The compromise National Defense Authorization Act legislation, which authorizes funding for the military, is expected to pass the House and Senate later this month.

"I have been steadfast in my support for the men and women in the 440th and I believe there is not a strategic case to be made for inactivation of the unit, which provides critical air support and ensures the readiness of units at Fort Bragg," Hagan said in an e-mail. "I look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to pass this bill to protect the home of the Airborne from a hasty inactivation plan."

The 440th, which has roughly 1,200 airmen, has an estimated $77 million economic impact on the local community.

"I am very happy that the news from Sen. Hagan's office looks like it will at least delay - and may kill the prospect - that the 440th may be restationed," Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson said. "Fayetteville and Fort Bragg will benefit by retaining the Reservist jobs in our community."

Air Force officials marked the 440th for inactivation earlier this year as part of a plan that would move the unit's C-130 cargo planes and divert newer-model planes that had been destined to come here for years.

In October, Brig. Gen. James P. Scanlan sent an e-mail to 440th airmen saying the Air Force Reserve Command has decided not to extend funding for the 440th past March. However, the unit will continue operating as usual until directed otherwise by Congress.

Hagan's amendment doesn't stop the inactivation, but at least delays the decision.

She has pushed efforts in the Senate to prevent the inactivation.

The 440th Airlift Wing supports in-garrison training and operational requirements of the Air Force, Army and Joint Special Operations forces, she said. If the Air Force's proposal to inactivate the 440th Airlift Wing proceeds, more than 1,100 full-time and part-time jobs would be lost at Pope Airfield, she said.

Airmen with the unit will soon lose her as an advocate. She was defeated in the November election. Sen.-elect Thom Tillis, however, said he will fight to keep the 440th in place.

View original article: http://www.fayobserver.com/military/th-airlift-wing-s-inactivation-halted-for-now-by-committee/article_e62971c7-2cc1-567e-8dc8-e7a7ebb70644.html

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