The Air Force is considering a possible compromise on its plan to deactivate Fort Bragg’s 440th Airlift Wing that would satisfy the Army’s airborne training requirements, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R) told the Fayetteville Observer.
Tillis and much of the state’s congressional delegation have been fighting the Air Force’s decision since it first proposed deactivating the 440th — an Air Force Reserve unit based at Fort Bragg’s Pope Field — two years ago. The lawmakers say dismantling the airlift wing would hinder the ability of airborne units at the post to quickly deploy to global hotspots.
Following discussions between the two services in which the Army made clear the level of support it requires for its airborne missions, the Air Force needs to respond, Tillis said.
The first-term senator said he would oppose any response that doesn’t meet the Army’s requirements.
“When the leadership on Fort Bragg says they need to complete a training mission, there better be a plane on the ground,” Tillis said.
Other advocates of the unit remain hopeful a compromise can be reached. One option would be to retain the 440th, but with fewer aircraft. Mike Moose, a member of the Save the 440th coalition and president of the Reserve Officers Association Department of North Carolina, said he believes the unit will shrink from 12 to eight C-130s.
The Air Force has been drawing down the number of personnel in the 440th, which now is slated to be deactivated by Oct. 1. Its staffing stands at 700 airmen and civilians, down from 1,200 two years ago, according to the story.