Sen. Maria Cantwell and Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg of the Washington National Guard held a joint press conference today to attack the Pentagon’s decision to transfer an F-15 fighter unit out of Portland, OR. The move, proposed by the Base Realignment and Closure commission (BRAC), would leave only two F-15s to defend the entire Pacific Northwest.
The move would leave the Northwest with fewer air defenses than the rest of the country, said Cantwell, making the region more vulnerable to enemy attack. “That’s unacceptable,” she said at a news conference at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
As it turns out, that’s not the only BRAC decision that poses a threat to the security of our region. In a recent post on Pacific Views, Natasha warns that the proposed realignment would leave six western states with no airlift capability.
If the BRAC sticks with the Pentagon recommendations, the governor of Washington State, along with governors of Idaho, Montana and Oregon will have no airlift capacity at their immediate disposal in case of emergency. At least 18 other states will be in a similar situation, but the entire continous northwest is out in the cold. And because Nevada and both of the Dakotas will also have no permanent airlift capacity, the airlift units in Wyoming, Utah and California will be the closest available to cover the whole region.
Natasha has posted the entire BRAC testimony of Gen. Frank Scoggins of the Washington Air National Guard… and some of it is quite alarming in terms of our region’s ability to respond to natural disaster or enemy attack.
Since September 11, 2001, many National Guard capabilities have been developed in order to support civil authorities in time of crisis. Those assets require air transportation in many instances. The impact of removing unit equipped KC-135s from the Washington Air National Guard and of C-130 aircraft from the Idaho Air National Guard will totally delete the Northwest Governors’ emergency capability to respond to Homeland Security events within the region.
I guess us “blue states” just aren’t worth defending.