A few days ago the Great Falls Tribune published a story titled, “Mission change progresses for Montana Air National Guard” (MANG) in which we learned that the F-15 Eagle jets at the Montana Air National Guard are on schedule to leave Montana this summer, and C-130 cargo planes are due to arrive later in the year, possibly in the October – December timeframe.
In other words, it looks like the MANG will be without any planes for at least a few months. Montana military supporters should be nervous as we play the bureaucratic waiting game, possibly waiting for the leftovers from the Department of Defense.
When this is all completed, apparently this will be the first time the MANG will be without some variation of a Fighter jet since 1947. 1947 was the first year of Meet the Press and Howdy Doody (which to some is probably the same thing).
So, Montana is losing their J-E-T-S. Jets, jets, JETS! They are supposedly being replaced with cargo planes. Some people I’ve visited with about the loss of jets and the gain of cargo planes look like they have that gagging feeling in their throats when they say, “C-130.”
Sadly, it looks like Maverick, Goose, Viper, Iceman, and Jester will be gone from Fightertown Montana.
We also learned from the Tribune report that the MANG will lose “35 part-time and 55 full-time civilian technician positions,” but that number seems to be changing with every letter received from the Air Force.
So, Montana is losing J-O-B-S. Jobs, jobs, JOBs!
I would have liked to see a little more fight from Montana’s “powerful” senior Senator, Max Baucus. Plus, with Senator Jon Tester having found some clout on the Appropriations subcommittee on Military Construction, he should be fighting more. If all goes as planned, Tester will be Montana’s senior senator in January 2015, so it may be time for him to take off his training wheels, visit with some key folks at the Pentagon and slam his fist on their desk (for Montana’s sake).
We know that first term Congressman Steve Daines and first term Governor Steve Bullock have little or no experience with the military, but they should at least act like they are mad as hell about the loss of jets and jobs.
The legacy of U.S. Senator Max Baucus (which is still being written before the pen runs out of ink) is pretty weak in regard to military issues. He was the senior senator when the refueling mission left town and when a squadron of 50 Minuteman missiles were removed from Montana’s fruited plains. Baucus has never been much of a military supporter except when he was in campaign season. He has no more campaign seasons, but he could make his legacy with Montana’s military a little stronger if he put up more of a fight.
Montana’s political leaders should make one more push to keep the jets (and jobs) in Montana. After the last jet is gone, we don’t want to be left standing on an empty tarmac scanning the horizon hoping for something in return.
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