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House Democrats see political motive in Air Force determination to base C-130s in Georgia

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WASHINGTON — Three prime Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee are taking the Air Force to activity over a choice to base new C-130Js in Georgia, a move they contend may affect the state’s upcoming Senate runoff races.On Nov. 24, the Air Force chosen 4 Air National Guard bases to obtain 24 C-130J cargo planes, together with Savannah Air National Guard Base in Georgia.But House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., raised issues that the Air Force is “playing politics” by asserting its determination so near the runoff elections — particularly because the service initially deliberate on choosing solely three places and Congress has not but funded sufficient plane to be stationed a fourth website.“In this instance, the timing and decision to include Savannah, GA in the announcement, when Georgia is focused on Senate runoff elections, raises questions about the Secretary’s motives,” Smith stated in an announcement.“The Air Force did not need to make this decision now — plain and simple — and should delay moving forward with these basing actions until conference negotiations have concluded and the decision is not at risk of being politicized,” he stated. “If the Air Force plods ahead, the service runs the risk of undermining the strategic basing process and may force Congress to take action to protect the basing process from being used to potentially influence congressional action or election outcomes.”However, the Air Force maintains that its determination was motivated by effectivity, not politics.“Since the Air Force is aware the House and Senate versions of the appropriations bill include additional C-130Js, the Air Force can leverage the exhaustive work already accomplished on the current C-130J basing process for a fourth location, Savannah Air National Guard Base,” stated Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek. “Naming the preferred alternatives now allows us to move forward with the environmental impact process without delay, enabling the timely beddown of these C-130Js.”Story continuesThe Air Force first notified Congress in March that it deliberate to pick three Air National Guard bases to host new C-130J plane.The service thought-about eight installations: Bradley Air Guard Station in Connecticut, Peoria Air Guard Station in Illinois, Louisville Air Guard Base in Kentucky, Great Falls Air Guard Station in Montana, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas, McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in West Virginia, Cheyenne Air Guard Station in Wyoming, and the Georgia location.But because the Air Force neared its determination this fall, sure lawmakers grew involved that the service was now not staying true to its choice standards, which might have prioritized bases that would host the plane with out the necessity for costly upgrades.Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who chairs HASC’s seapower and projection forces subcommittee, stated he shared these issues throughout telephone calls with Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, and Air National Guard director Lt. Gen. Michael Loh.But the Air Force ended up selecting Louisville ANGB, McLaughlin ANGB, and Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, with eight C-130J plane slated to arrive to every base in 2021.If Congress funds an extra C-130 plane within the fiscal 12 months 2021 funds, these will go Savannah.“The Air Force without the slightest warning added a fourth site, assigning aircraft not yet approved by Congress to be based in Georgia,” Courtney stated in an announcement. “This surprise move was never once included in the Air Forces basing plans shared with our committee over the last two years, and it taints this process in the midst of a presidential transition and two special elections in Georgia. That frankly does not pass the smell test.”Likewise, HASC Readiness Subcommittee Chairman John Garamendi, D-Calif., stated the basing determination not solely “intertwines” with the runoffs however “preempts” ongoing negotiations over the protection appropriations and the annual protection coverage payments. He known as for the choice to be reversed and postponed.“The questionable timing and irregular process has undermined my confidence that this decision was made objectively and without political influence,” Garamendi stated in an announcement. “I strongly urge the Air Force to rescind this decision and delay this announcement until January. Doing so will allow the Air Force to make its decision until after conference negotiations have been completed and remove itself from the Georgia runoffs and other politically charged circumstances.”Sen. David Perdue, a Georgia Republican whose destiny rests on the outcomes of the runoffs in January, instantly hailed the basing determination and pointed to his personal work attempting to garner further assets for the state’s army installations, which embrace Robins Air Force Base and Fort Benning.“This is extremely exciting news for Savannah’s airmen and the entire coastal community,” stated Perdue, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We’ve made it a top priority to modernize and upgrade military equipment in order to preserve our competitive advantage around the world, and the 165th Airlift Wing is a critical component of that effort.”Perdue was pressured right into a Jan. 5 runoff with Democrat Jon Ossoff after neither candidate acquired 50 p.c of the vote throughout the elections earlier this month. If each Perdue and the opposite Georgia Senator, Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, fail to win their races, the Democrats may have the 2 seats wanted to clinch management of the Senate

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