States argue Air Force flying solo

The Air Force's plan to restructure the Air National Guard involves shifting personnel, "equipment and aircraft among at least 54 sites where Air Guard units now are stationed. Roughly two dozen sites would expand, while about 30 would be closed or downsized. In many cases, units would continue to exist but no planes would be assigned to them," according to a Aug 12 AP story. Two dozen states have raised concerns that such shifting of personnel and aircraft leaves their communities vulnerable to attack and unable to adequately deal with other emergencies. A nine member panel will meet to recommend or not the base closures to President Bush. Pennsylvania and Illinois have filed in federal court "arguing that the Pentagon doesn't have the authority to move units without each governor's consent." The commission has recently received an opinion by the Justice Department backing the Pentagon's authority.

The New York Times (NYT) reporting on the reaction to the Justice Department's decision, writes that the states have the "support from the chief of the National Guard Bureau, Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, who oversees the Army National Guard and the Air Guard." The article continues:
"We have a solid legal case that we will continue to fight because the law and common sense is on our side," Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois, a Democrat, said in a statement. "What the Pentagon is proposing flies in the face of reason."

Adrian R. King Jr., deputy chief of staff to Gov. Edward G. Rendell of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, said in a telephone interview: "The D.O.J. opinion is like any other opinion. At the end of the day, the state believes the only opinion that matters is that of a judge in a court of law."

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