July 22, 2005
St. Louis, Mo. — In a letter to Gov. Matt Blunt, Attorney General Jay Nixon announced his intention to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense on behalf of the state of Missouri to prevent the transfer of 15 F-15 Eagle fighter jets from their current base in St. Louis.
Nixon said he is prepared to file a lawsuit if the transfer of the 131st out of Missouri is not removed from the Department of Defense's recommended base closure list by Sept. 8. "September 8 is the deadline for Missouri to demonstrate to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld 'substantially deviated' from the statutory criteria set forth by the Base Closing Act," Nixon said in his letter delivered to Blunt Thursday.
As part of the Pentagon's most recent action under the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, 28 of 88 National Guard flying units around the country are scheduled to lose their planes — including the 131st F-15 Fighter Wing at Lambert Field — with the aircraft being moved to installations in other states. Nixon contends that "the mere redistribution of military assets" is not authorized under the Base Closure Act, and that furthermore, the federal government shutting down a state National Guard installation is a violation of federal law.
"The cooperative relationship between the federal and state governments with respect to state National Guards requires a delicate balance — a balance so important that it was written into the United States Constitution," Nixon said.
Nixon also cites federal statutes, which require approval by a governor before a National Guard unit can be relocated or withdrawn.
"I am prepared to defend your authority as Commander in Chief of the Missouri National Guard to adequately and appropriately protect the essential forces you command," Nixon told Blunt. "The 131st Fighter Wing of the National Guard is strategically located to protect Missouri, and is an integral part of the overall effectiveness of our outstanding Missouri National Guard in fulfilling their military and peace time missions."
Governors of Pennsylvania and Illinois have already directed their respective attorneys general to take similar actions. Lawsuits have been filed in both states to prevent National Guard base closings there.