The Department of Defense is considering cutting the 132nd Fighter Wing’s 21 F-16s, and in turn around 400 jobs in Des Moines.
But now a group of governors led by Governor Terry Branstad have drawn up a new defense spending plan they say will keep the F-16s in Des Moines.
The group leading the way with the proposal is the Governor’s Council. The group is co-chaired by Governor Branstad. In a letter to the Pentagon the council writes:
"We continue to have significant concerns regarding the ongoing use of the air national guard as the bill payer to protect the active component." The letter also says that the Air Force's Proposal "fails to consider the Air National Guards’ cost-effectiveness, high level of experience, and homeland defense and emergency response missions."
“What Governor Branstad has proposed is something that would keep the F16 unit in Des Moines,” said Tim Albrecht, with the governor’s office.
The council's proposal calls for a reduction of 2,000 guard personnel nationwide, instead of the Air Force's proposed 5,500. The council also believes the Air Force plan would leave states vulnerable in case of an emergency.
“Governor Branstad's point is this, it doesn`t make sense for a federal bureaucracy in Washington DC to address the health and safety concerns after emergencies and natural disasters. National Guard units are right here, they are on the ground, they are in the states,” said Albrecht.
Pentagon officials are scheduled to meet Friday to consider the new plan. Governor Branstad hopes to hear from them after the meeting.