Forty-nine governors sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday (February 27), calling on the Pentagon to reconsider its plan to slash funding for the Air National Guard.
"As commanders-in-chief, we appreciate the need to reorganize, restructure and modernize the military to meet new threats and economic realities. We also understand the need for cost-effective means to achieve these goals," the governors wrote. "Given these realities, we must oppose the proposal that the Air National Guard absorb 59 percent of the total aircraft budget reductions and approximately six times the per capita personnel reductions."
Cuts in the defense budget have long been a concern for the governors, who wrapped up an annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Monday after a session with President Obama at the White House. The failure of the congressional "Super Committee" to reach a budget agreement last year increased the chances that the cuts will become a reality, and while some states are likely to be hit harder than others by reductions in the Pentagon budget, state officials around the country believe the Air National Guard is being targeted unfairly.
All 50 state adjutants general, who oversee the National Guard in each state, sent their own letter to Panetta warning against the cuts to the Air Guard, The Air Force Times reports .
For the governors, the military cuts are just as much about jobs as they are about national security. The Air Forces Times reports that as many as 5,100 Guard positions could be eliminated in fiscal 2013 under the latest Pentagon plans. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is among the governors who is worried, telling The Detroit News that more than 600 full-time and part-time workers could lose their jobs if the Pentagon follows through with a plan to move A-10 fighter planes from an Air National Guard base in his state.
Panetta met personally with some of the governors during their visit to Washington, D.C., and he noted that the Air National Guard cuts are not yet set in stone. "That gave me some hope," Governor Terry Branstad of Iowa said, according to the Omaha World-Herald.