National Guard Chief: “It is a significant impact to us.”
Funding Diversion Could Impact Peoria’s 182nd Airlift Wing
WASHINGTON – Today, in a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) questioned National Guard Bureau Chief, General Joseph L. Lengyel, on the recent diversion of more than $1 billion in federal funds that had previously been appropriated to upgrade and modernize National Guard equipment. Instead of investing in Soldiers and Airmen, the funding is being put toward border wall construction.
“We rely on our National Guard to execute our National Defense Strategy and in my district, the Peoria 182nd Airlift Wing maintains and flies older planes; funding for the modernization of their equipment must be a top priority,” said Congresswoman Bustos. “The decision to take money away from important upgrade efforts is shortsighted – it puts our servicemen and women at risk and undermines our country’s military readiness.”
Congresswoman Bustos’s questions focused on the impact that reprogramming the funding will have on National Guard readiness. During the hearing, General Lengyel admitted that the National Guard had received only two days’ notice and was not actively consulted in the decision-making process. When asked about how the funding cuts would affect the execution of upgrades to equipment, the General stated that the upgrades would be delayed by at least a year:
“It’s hard to quantify the impact of delaying it a year. I don’t know who’s going to be flying a C-130 that may have needed that defensive warning system on it. These are planes we’ll still deploy, they will still go around the world, they will still be flown in combat and in harm’s way. Does one year make a difference to some Airman that’s going to fly in that C-130 that slipped a year to be upgraded? Nobody in this room knows that.
It is a significant impact to us.”
In Peoria, the 182nd Airlift Wing’s current C-130H mission performs the tactical portion of various airlift missions and has a strong history of outstanding performance, including the highest C-130H mission capability rate in the Air National Guard from 2009-2017. The 182nd has also achieved the most fully mission capable C-130 hours since June 2013 while flying the most hours since October 2012 for the deployed location.
In her role on the Appropriations Committee last year, Congresswoman Bustos secured funding to deliver state-of-the-art equipment for the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria.