Feb 19 2015

Fayetteville Observer

In a two-page letter to Secretary of the Air Force Debra Lee James, Sen. Thom Tillis said he was distressed by news of the clearing house, which coincided with Carter's first day in office.

Carter publicly promised Tillis, a first-term Republican, he would sit down and discuss the 440th's future with local leaders…

…Tillis' letter calls the clearing house - and efforts to move airmen from the unit in general - a violation of the spirit of Congress's directions.

Lynch, who heads the "Save the 440th Coalition," said the clearing house appears to be an effort to sidestep congressional intent. He said efforts to save the unit now appear to have been part of a "rigged game" with the Air Force…..

… Tillis' letter details the Air Force's broader plans to reform its "total force" in part by inactivating Reserve units tied with active Army units, like those found on Fort Bragg, in favor of keeping active duty Air Force units.

But Tillis said other units do not have the day-to-day tactical mission that is unique to the 440th and that inactivating the unit would create unreasonable risks to readiness at a time when threats abroad appear to be growing.

He said other units that would be called on to fill in on the 440th mission contend with the "tyranny of distance" created by bureaucratic, logistical and operational delays or cancellations.

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