Proposed Military Cuts to Affect West Virginia

By: Michael Hyland Email
By: Michael Hyland Email

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia’s adjutant general announced Friday the state will be impacted by proposed cuts in defense spending.

U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley detailed the proposed cuts Friday morning.

The West Virginia Air National Guard will not be as severely impacted as other states, Maj. Gen. James Hoyer said.

In Kanawha County, the130th Airlift Wing will lose one of nine C-130 aircraft, as well as its RC-26.

The C-130s are responsible for combat, homeland defense and humanitarian missions, according to a news release. The RC-26 is used as a surveillance aircraft.

"I think West Virginia fared pretty well in this," Hoyer says.

Donley was tasked with cutting $50 billion during the next 10 years as part of the larger task of cutting $487 billion in defense spending. Last summer, Congress passed the Budget Control Act in the final moments of the high-stakes debt ceiling debate, triggering the cuts.

“The best choice and course of action for us is to become smaller," Donley says.

The failure of the so-called “super committee” to reach consensus has triggered an additional $600 billion which will have to be cut from defense spending. Those cuts have not been outlined and may not be needed if Congress comes up with an alternate plan.

"We're in an environment with a $15 trillion deficit,” Hoyer says. “We've got to be able to do more with less."

But, the debate over these cuts is far from over.

In other states, whole bases were proposed to close.

"With anything that deals with the Pentagon and then has to go through the Congress, obviously there could be some changes," Hoyer says.

Some lawmakers are already vowing changes before this plan takes off.

Martinsburg is also impacted by Friday's announcement.

The 167th Airlift Wing will retire 11 of its C-5A Galaxy aircraft and switch to eight C-17 Globemaster aircraft. That move will be effective in fiscal year 2015.

Hoyer says he's happy they still will be flying missions at both sites.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D) released a statement about the cuts: "I will closely monitor any further developments in our Guard’s status, but I applaud General Hoyer for his strong leadership. Looking ahead, I truly believe that as we reduce our nation’s debt and deficits, the Guard has a powerful role to play in helping our military operate more efficiently instead of relying on overpriced contractors.”

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