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It’s time to give New Mexico its own operational flying unit

The recent article regarding assignment of operational aircraft at Kirtland AFB hits the nail on the head. Maj. Gen. Ken Nava, the new adjutant general of the New Mexico National Guard, has the future of the famous “Enchilada Air Force” on his radar.

The New Mexico Air National Guard has been the premier ANG unit in the country for decades. The unit has served in Korea; Vietnam, where they were assigned the call sign “Taco”; in the Far East; and in many other deployments in and out of the United States.

I was fortunate to serve in the N.M. Air National Guard for over 45 years. I deployed with them to Tuy Hoa, Vietnam, where the Tacos gained the reputation of flying the greatest number of combat hours than other like units in country.

We lost our F-16s when the unit was told that they were obsolete and they going to the “boneyard.”

That was a lie, as we know that two of our formerly assigned aircraft are assigned to Holloman AFB training U. S. Air Force pilots and others were assigned to the Virginia ANG.

The other lie, as Maj. Gen. Nava states, is that the Air National Guard Principles says there will be at least one operational flying squadron in each state of the U.S.

The other pluses for having an operational flying unit in New Mexico are: New Mexico was at one time responsible for protection of our southern border with Mexico. That responsibility in now assigned to the Colorado ANG based in Denver. Note: Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque is only 250 miles from the Mexican border, where Denver is 1,200 miles from Mexico.

In New Mexico, we have low-level flying routes and we can fly supersonic in some part of the state.

For munitions delivery training, New Mexico has a practice range near Melrose and a live delivery range at Red Rio. KAFB, with its proximity to Fort Bliss, Texas, can and has provided close air support for the U. S. Army. Maj. Gen. Nava, along with the commander in chief, Gov. Susana Martinez, can lobby our congressional delegation and the National Guard Bureau to stand by their policy of at least one flying unit in each state. Keep in mind that there are other states that have more than one flying unit. It is time for the National Guard Bureau to keep its word and equip this former premier flying unit with an operational flying unit. With the specter of another BRAC, KAFB would surely welcome one. Comment: We have unlimited flying weather in New Mexico.


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