SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Gov. Gary Herbert joined 48 other governors to sign a letter to U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta opposing the cuts facing the Air National Guard.

Part of the U.S. Air Force's fiscal 2013 budget request, the cut proposal recommends that the Air National Guard absorb 59 percent of the total aircraft budget reductions and approximately six times the per capita personnel reductions. The governors' letter states the Air National Guard provides 35 percent of the U.S. Air Force's capability for 6 percent of the budget.    

The letter says: "As commanders in chief, we appreciate the need to reorganize, restructure and modernize the military to meet new threats and economic realities." It also requests that the Department of Defense work with governors "to fashion solutions that best serve the interests of this nation."

"I am extremely proud of our Utah Air National Guard and the critical role they play at home and abroad," Herbert said. "Our Utah airmen are not only top-notch in performing their duties; they also represent an extraordinary state partner for domestic disasters and state emergencies.

"Bottom line: This proposal does not reflect the most cost-effective way to make necessary cuts."  

"We are grateful Governor Herbert supports a more thoughtful, inclusive process on the part of the Air Force in this far-reaching decision," said Adjutant General Maj. Brian L. Tarbet, leader of Utah's National Guard.