The Iowa Congressional delegation plans to meet with the Secretary of Air Force to discuss the proposal to shut down the 132nd Iowa Air Guard fighter wing in Des Moines. Congressman Bruce Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, says they have not been given an explanation of why the Iowa unit is targeted, but says it’s likely a cultural issue with the Air Force.
“There is a very different institutional approach to this in the Army, Navy and Marine Corps than there is in the Air Force,” Braley explains. “The Air Force has a large number of aircraft that are very expensive and very costly to maintain. And they seem to be taking an emphasis that preserves more of their existing active-duty fighter planes and aircraft.”
Braley says the Air Force is also looking to expand the use of unmanned drones. He says the Air Force has tried to justify closing the fighter wing in Des Moines by suggesting it be replaced by a drone program.
“But that’s not what we’re talking about, we’re talking about comparing apples to apples and that’s how that fighter wing compares with other Air National Guard units around the country. And the numbers are compelling. That it ranks consistently at the top of all the objective measures of readiness and success, and that’s why this decision does not make sense,” Braley says.
He says the Iowa delegation will use the record of the Iowa unit as it pushes to keep it going. “And I think that if we have the opportunity tomorrow to sit down and calmly and rationally make the case to the Secretary of the Air Force about why this is a bad decision, and listen to his justification for it, I think we will have the best opportunity to have an influence on that decision,” Braley says.
The unit has 21 F-16 jets and some 1,000 personnel that keep the unit running.