Under the Dome

Tillis, Ellmers unhappy after meeting with Air Force chief over 440th inactivation

1st Lt. Alyssa Sandquist watches for lighthouses along the Outer Banks through the window of a C-130H during the 440th Airlift Wing's medical training C-130H flight on Monday, March 10, 2014 over eastern N.C.The Air Force Reserve's 440th Airlift Group operates the airfield and a wing of C-130H cargo airplanes that could soon be retired if proposed budget defense budget cuts are passed.
1st Lt. Alyssa Sandquist watches for lighthouses along the Outer Banks through the window of a C-130H during the 440th Airlift Wing's medical training C-130H flight on Monday, March 10, 2014 over eastern N.C.The Air Force Reserve's 440th Airlift Group operates the airfield and a wing of C-130H cargo airplanes that could soon be retired if proposed budget defense budget cuts are passed. Raleigh News & Observer

Sen. Thom Tillis and U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers met with Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James on Wednesday to argue against the Air Force’s plan to deactivate the 440th Airlift Wing at Fort Bragg.

The 440th, an Air Force Reserve unit, operates C-130 aircraft at Fort Bragg, the home of Army airborne and special operations forces. The Air Force plans to close it as part of the Obama administration’s budget.

Ellmers, a Republican from Dunn whose congressional district includes the base, said shutting down the airlift wing would harm military readiness.

“While it is my belief the Air Force cannot provide any strategic justification for this short-sighted decision, today’s meeting emphasized the need to produce all metrics used in determining its closure,” Ellmers said in a statement after the meeting. “I want to know how they decided that deactivation of this critical component – which will impact the readiness of the 18th Airborne Corps – is fiscally warranted.”

Tillis, a Republican and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the Air Force had “not yet provided the metrics and policy rationale” for the decision.

An Air Force spokeswoman last week said a report explaining the reasons for the decision, which is required by Congress, was being prepared.

Ellmers said she and Tillis met with both James and Deputy to the Chief of the Air Force Reserve Maj. Gen. Maryanne Miller at the Capitol.

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