Thursday, February 9, 2012

Senator Chuck Grassley made the following comment after a meeting he hosted today for members of the Iowa congressional delegation with the Secretary of the Air Force regarding Air Force budget reduction recommendations to retire the 21 F-16 fighter aircraft assigned to the 124th Fighter Squadron, Iowa Air National Guard in Des Moines.  The meeting was held in the U.S. Capitol.

"A lot of mixed signals were sent by the Air Force in today's meeting.  The Iowa congressional delegation is on the same wavelength and committed in a bipartisan, bicameral way to getting the data that the Air Force said it used to make a decision that the Air Force claimed was based on a cost-benefit analysis.  We want this data in order to reconcile an additional comment made by Air Force officials in today's meeting that judgment, beyond the data, was also involved in its decision.  This judgment comment detracts from the Air Force statement that everything was measured for cost and benefit.  Overall, it's a question of safeguarding national security dollars because the Guard has shown to be more cost effective for missions such as a fighter squadron than the Active Duty, and Guard pilots tend to be more experienced since they stay in the service over a long period of time.  The discouraging part is that my feeling was that the Air Force has made its decision, but it will be up to Congress to decide whether to approve the Air Force plan and National Guard advocates in Congress are already signaling that they won't go along quietly with the Air Force's plan to take so many cuts out of the Air Guard.