Texas Gov. Rick Perry has joined a growing chorus of Gulf Coast state leaders who oppose an Air Force plan to transfer a squadron of C-130 cargo aircraft from Fort Worth to Montana, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The planes serve a vital emergency response need in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida, Perry told state National Guard troops Wednesday at the Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, where the eight Hercules aircraft are based. Texas Reps. Kay Granger and Joe Barton joined him at the event.
The transfer of the planes to Montana as part of a plan to reshape the mission of the Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Airlift Wing to airborne reconnaissance, Perry said, is “the same as telling local folks their ambulance service has moved out of state.”
He promised to do what he could, working with other state leaders and members of Congress, to preserve the crucial role the planes play in rescue and recovery operations during hurricanes and other disasters.
“Moving aircraft so vital to hurricane response 1,000 miles farther from the Gulf Coast ranks as one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard,” said Perry, who piloted C-130s in the 1970s. “It makes no sense for our safety and security.”
The governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida also oppose the move because the planes have an important role in their states’ disaster preparedness. The aircraft flew crucial re-supply and evacuation missions during Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Gustav.
“As long as these C-130s are in Fort Worth, they can be deployed anywhere in the Gulf Coast with something as simple as a phone call,” Perry noted.
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