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U.S. Air Force announce local cuts to Wyoming Air National Guard

CHEYENNE, Wyo. -- The U.S. Air Force announced Tuesday, the Wyoming Air National Guard's 187th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron is one of the units proposed to be cut in the president's 2013 budget.

The Air Force made the proposed force structure decision resulting in 5,500 manpower cuts to the Air National Guard nationwide, but is still subject to congressional approval.

"These proposed budget cuts affect Wyoming," Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner, Wyoming's adjutant general said, "but at the end of the day, this is a military organization, and we will execute the program or budget given to us."

The Air Force has made the proposed decision to divest itself of this unit and the mission will not be absorbed into another state, Reiner said.

The 87 members that make up the unit include flight nurses, aeromedical evacuation technicians, communications operators, medical service corps officers, medical administrative personnel, medical logistics personnel and bio-medical maintenance personnel.

According to Brig. Gen. Donald Haught, assistant adjutant general for the Wyoming Air National Guard, the mission of the 187th AES is to evacuate the wounded, injured and ill under the supervision of aeromedical evacuation crew members aboard any Department of Defense aircraft including our Wyoming C-130 aircraft.

"Our number one goal is to ensure our troops are well taken care of throughout this
process," Reiner said. "As we continue negotiations with the Air Force, we will begin making preparations on reintegrating these Airmen into appropriate positions in other units."

Members of the unit are currently scheduled for a 120-day deployment to various areas of operation beginning in late April, Haught said. The squadron was officially stood up in 1962 and has been involved in every military operation since Vietnam.

According to Reiner, the Air National Guard is comprised of more than 35 percent of the total Air Force capability while operating at less than 6 percent of the total U.S. Air Force budget.

"The National Guard is still America's most efficient and cost effective force," said Reiner.

In a press release issued by the National Governors Association, the Council of Governors sent a statement to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, highlighting the value of the National Guard and opposing the disproportionate cuts facing the Air National Guard.

"We request that the Department of Defense reconsider any proposed reductions to the Air Guard force structure or equipment and that Secretary Panetta works with governors to find solutions that better serve the interests of the nation," the council wrote.

Wyoming's Governor Matt Mead serves on the Council of Governors, a group of ten governors chosen by the President to advise the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the White House Homeland Security Council on matters related to the National Guard and civil support missions.