Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says Pentagon generals need to consider deeper cuts in America’s “regular” military ranks instead of eliminating entire National Guard units. Harkin and the rest of Iowa’s Congressional delegation will meet today with the Secretary of the Air Force in hopes of reversing a proposal to decommission the Iowa Air National Guard’s 132nd Fighter Wing.
“We have enough data to show that it is one of the best squadrons in the entire United States,” Harkin says. “If they’re cutting F-16s, why are they cutting Des Moines? Why wouldn’t they cut some whose performance levels are much lower?” Harkin, a Democrat, says the military’s top brass are looking in the wrong place to make reductions.
Harkin says, “As we are cutting defense spending, the best way to save money and to be ready is to cut some of our standing forces, cut some of our bases overseas, cut some of the regular military and rely more upon our Reserve and National Guard.” The Des Moines-based 132nd Fighter Wing includes 21 “Fighting Falcon” F-16 fighter jets and a thousand personnel.
Harkin says the unit has proven itself time and again over the past six decades as being reliable, professional and vital. “You get more bang for the buck with Reserve and National Guard units and rather than putting money into bases overseas, we put the money into local communities,” Harkin says. “These National Guard units perform a lot more than just a call-up during wartime. They help us with floods and natural disasters and emergency situations.”
Harkin and the other Iowans will meet in Washington this afternoon with Air Force Secretary Michael Donley at 12:30 P.M. CST.