WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) announced that he has successfully secured an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2016 that requires the commanders of the XVIII Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and the United States Army Special Operations Command to certify that the removal of C-130Hs from Fort Bragg’s Pope Airfield will not adversely impact the daily training requirements of airborne and special operations units. If the commanders do not certify the removal, then the C-130Hs will remain at Pope Airfield.
The amendment, which unanimously passed in the Senate Armed Services Committee today, limits the use of funds for the transfer of C-130H aircraft for 90 days following the passage of the NDAA. It also mandates that the Air Force maintain dedicated C-130H aircraft to support the daily training requirements of the XVIII Airborne Corps, 82nd Airborne Division and Army Special Operations Command at the manning level currently required to support the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Airfield.
For months, Tillis has repeatedly requested information from the Department of Defense regarding the training requirements for Pope Airfield, but has been unable to get answers from the Pentagon or Air Force. Tillis’ amendment, with the support of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, ensures that the combat leaders at Fort Bragg will have a final say on what they need to properly train their troops.
Tillis will continue to work with the Senate Armed Services Committee members and other colleagues to explore other remedies, including additional measures when the full Senate addresses the NDAA bill later in the year, to stop the Air Force’s removal of C-130Hs from Pope Airfield.
Air Force officials previously admitted that they did not consult with the Army and Fort Bragg leaders before making their decision to deactivate the 440th Airlift Wing. Earlier this year, Fort Bragg commander Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson publicly came out against the deactivation, stating, “Of all places in the world, why would we take that capability away from Fort Bragg?”
“I am pleased that my amendment to help block the deactivation of the 440th Airlift Wing received the unanimous support of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle,” said Senator Tillis. “It is absolutely vital that our combat leaders at Fort Bragg have a say in the Air Force’s short-sighted and strategically flawed decision to shutter the 440th Airlift Wing. I will continue to pursue any and all options that will help slow down and ultimately stop the removal of C-130Hs from Pope Airfield.”