BILOXI, Miss.–Until the first week in April the plan by the U.S. Air Force, per instructions from the federal government, was to deactivate the 815th Airlift Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. That mean the Air Force has been slowly taking the unit apart, sending its crew to other bases. Now that the plan is to keep the “Flying Jennies” (nickname for the C130j cargo planes) in Mississippi, the Air Force assured Sen. Thad Cochran that the manpower will return.
“The ability to restore parts of that organization will require some manpower that we have already put into the calculus for this PB 16 [President’s Budget] submission,” Lt. Gen. James Jackson, Chief of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, told Cochran at a Senate hearing Wednesday.
“Our economic impact at the 403rd Wing, and those 1,600 reserve airmen, is about $100 million to the local community,” said Col. Frank Amodeo, commander of the 403rd, in an interview with SuperTalk Mississippi’s Kipp Gregory.
“It’s used to move troops, beans and bullets,” he said about the cargo planes.
THE WHOLE INTERVIEW WITH COL. FRANK AMODEO
“We were very pleased with the decision to bring the 815th Airlift Squadron back to mission-ready status in Mississippi. At the same time, I want to make sure that the Air Force and Air Force Reserve have the resources required to reinstate the manpower and support required to bring the squadron back to its full strength,” said Cochran during the hearing. “I am pleased that the Air Force intends to make that happen as soon as possible.”
The Defense Appropriation Subcommittee is considering a FY2016 funding requests for the National Guard and Reserve, which is contained within the budgets of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. The request totals more than $46.7 billion for FY2016, an increase of $1.7 billion over FY2015. This includes $5.1 billion for the Air Force Reserve, as well as $10.9 billion for the Air National Guard, a $600 million increase.