C130 training exercise highlights 440th Airlift Wing's importance

Budget documents just released call for retiring the entire 440th Air Wing fleet of C-130s.
March 10, 2014 4:07:00 PM PDT
he Pentagon is making the case for Congress to sign off on sweeping new budget cuts aimed at creating a leaner, more nimble military.

Those cuts would take aim at the C-130s that are a part of the 440th Airlift Wing at Pope Army Airfield at Fort Bragg.  The 440th is on the chopping block.

"It is very much going to affect every single one of our reservists and their families," said Maj. Lisa Ray.

Facing extinction under the newly proposed Pentagon budget, the 440th was eager to show what they do Monday to local media including ABC11.

We watched as they simulated securing a soldier suffering a seizure. In live combat situations, the unit evacuates troops shot on the battlefield, injured by IEDs, or in psychological distress.

"If I get a phone call, or anybody in my unit, 24 hours from that point we have to be at the unit," said Col.  Tom Hansen."Seventy-two hours from that phone call, we're expected to be anywhere in the world performing our mission."

Monday's exercise was a four-hour mission from Fort Bragg to the Outer Banks and back. The training is important because the 440th is Bragg's only unit capable of long distance paratrooper travel.

Of course, many Fort Bragg forces are counted on for quick response to global trouble spots. Critics of the cuts say removing the 440th from post could harm that.

Others worry about the economic impact. The Air Force estimates the wing pumps about $77 million dollars into the Fayetteville economy with its 1,200 reserve and active duty airmen.

"It's making ends meet. It's losing another part of my family," said Capt. MacKenzie Johnson. "So if we have to disband and move from here, it's like losing part of your family."

A plan to replace the 440th's aging fleet of C-130Hs with the more modern C-130Js was put on hold six months ago.

The airmen at Bragg are quietly hoping that plan can be resurrected to save the unit.

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