Washington — Four members of North Carolina's congressional delegation have sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey to urge them to keep an Air Force unit at Fort Bragg's Pope Air Field.
Republican Reps. Renee Ellmers and Richard Hudson and Democratic Reps. David Price and Mike McIntyre asked Hagel and Dempsey to answer a series of questions to gauge the impact of deactivating the 440th Airlift Wing, which provides airlift, airdrop and medical operations and supports training and operational requirements of Air Force, Army and Joint Operations forces.
The Air Force has proposed in a draft budget cutting the 440th and moving its dozen C130 cargo planes to other installations. The move would eliminate about 1,100 full- and part-time jobs at Fort Bragg.
"We fear that not having planes ready onsite will lower the quality of training while ultimately costing taxpayers more money and valuable resources," the U.S. House members wrote in the letter. "There is no question that we face difficult fiscal challenges, but as we make budget decisions regarding national security, we simply cannot afford to cut the quality and frequency of training for those units we rely on most."
U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also has said she plans to oppose efforts to deactivate the 440th.