Colorado National Guard fights Pentagon to keep squadron open

DENVER -- The headlines out of Washington imply the military is getting more money.

The Colorado National Guard, however, is bracing for a big cut.

Come the end of May, the 200th Airlift Squadron is scheduled for closure by the Air Force -- and the Colorado National Guard isn't happy about.

"Uncertainty breeds frustration right now," Major Gen. Mike Loh said.

Loh is fighting to keep the squadron, based in Colorado Springs, open -- disagreeing with the Air Force's belief that it will save taxpayers more than $10 million.

It's "much more expensive" to retrain pilots, Loh said.

"This is one of the finest airlift squadrons in the entire Air Force, entire nation," Loh said. "I have more applications from people who want to join this squadron than I can fill."

The squadron has been around since the 1940s.

It has transported military and world dignitaries over the years, including former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Because the jets are smaller than traditional military planes, they are capable of carrying sensitive materials to smaller airports.

They have also recently participated in training exercises to protect NORAD from an attack.

In Washington, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, is working with the Pentagon. Lamborn said he is focused on "protecting the pilots."

Lamborn fears pilots might quit the military if they are reassigned to other bases as planned.

"For instance, one of the young pilots has a baby in intensive care so whats he going to do?" Lamborn said.

As Lamborn does his job, Loh has a message for President Donald Trump.

"Get the right people in the room, let us re-look at this decision," Loh said.

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