Air Force Unit getting new commander as lawmakers fight inactivation

Thursday, June 4, 2015
Fort Bragg sign generic

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) -- The 440th Airlift Wing will welcome a new commander this weekend, as lawmakers continue to fight the unit's inactivation.

Colonel Karl A. Schmitkons, the unit's current Vice Commander, will assume command during a Sunday ceremony at Pope Field. Schmitkons takes over for Brigadier General James Scanlan, who's been at the unit's helm almost two years.

Scanlan is headed to Join Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. He'll serve as the Mobilization Assistant to the Commander of the USAF Expeditionary Center.

Fayetteville native and 22nd Air Force commander Major General Stayce D. Harris will preside over the ceremony.

Meanwhile state lawmakers continue an effort to save the 440th from inactivation. The unit, home to a fleet of of C-130H2 aircrafts, provides airborne training and operational support to Fort Bragg units, as well as units across the country. It fell victim to Air Force budget cuts in a decision announced last year.

Since then, state representatives have fiercely opposed taking the airborne out of the home to airborne operations.

Last month, Representative Renee Ellmers introduced amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act. Ellmers said the amendments, among other things, would require the Army to study how shuttering Fort Bragg's sole air wing would affect mission readiness and keep money from being used to close it.

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