Reprinted from The Arizona Daily Independent
Since February 1, new co-sponsors have been added to the legislation developed by Senator Kelly Ayotte and Congressman Ron Barber in their efforts to save the A-10. There is still time to save the airplane, but there seems to be a dearth of courage coming out of Congress.
For months, the alarm has been sounded across Southern Arizona (by the Arizona Daily Independent almost exlcusively) that the demise of the Davis Monthan Air Force Base was imminent. That alarm was at first dismissed and then ignored by the mainstream media. Sources report that local civic leaders charged with supporting the base had been made aware of the impending cuts as long as 9 months ago, but they simply chose to pass on to the public the empty promises made by Air Force leadership that the loss of the A-10 would be 'backfilled’ by F-16s.
The promise is as empty as it is mathematically impossible. According to documents recently released by the U.S. Air Force, Davis Monthan Air Force Base will lose 55 A-10s in FY 15-16, 7 EC-130s in FY 2016, 3 MQ-1s in FY 2016-2017, another 28 A-10s in FY 2018, and 6 MQ-9s will be added in FY 2015-2019. The documents also show that 21 F-16s will be added in FY 2019; however, it is clear, according to sources, that the Air Force will not have adequate inventory for that addition.
In other words, there are not enough F-16s to fill the promise, and the 7 EC-130s, a small MQ-9 (drone) group, and AMARC (boneyard) will not be enough to justify keeping the base open during the upcoming BRACs.
While the Pima County Board of Supervisors in Arizona will vote tomorrow on an ineffective resolution proclaiming their support for Davis Monthan Air Force Base, they have apparently been unable to wrestle any co-sponsorships out of the rest of Arizona’s congressional delegation.
Davis Monthan Air Force Base is a significant economic driver to the struggling area. According to the map (above), it is clear that over 4000 jobs will be lost by 2017 at the latest.
It appears that the congressional delegation in Arizona is only interested in preserving the promise of the F-35 at Luke Air Force Base. Luke is located in Phoenix, which is the heart of the delegation’s biggest voting bloc.
The people of Southern Arizona have little leadership. In 2010, Mike Varney of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce wrote in a small business tabloid of the local leadership’s failure to support the future of DM:
“Missing from all of the public hearings were the politicians who are trying to convince us they are in favor of economic development. Where were you, elected officials? Were you really too busy to help bring $176 million in construction projects to Tucson? Are you really too afraid someone in your ward or district will take issue with the leadership you did not demonstrate?”
“Actions speak louder than words. Your words about wanting jobs and economic growth in the region lose credibility when no one from any town council, city council or the board of supervices (sic) could find the time to cheer for the home team.”
As a result, supporters of the A-10 are calling on the community in Southern Arizona and communities across the country to lobby directly on Capitol Hill. According to sources, few from Southern Arizona have recently visited Capitol Hill to put up a weak fight for DM and the A-10. Those small efforts have been ineffective.
But there is still time. Time for civic groups and individuals to show they recognize that their leaders have failed them, and they themselves will visit Capitol Hill and their representatives in Arizona offices to demand that they become co-sponsors of Ayotte and Barbers' pieces of legislation. Simply put, say sources, that is all there is left to do.
The A-10, known for flying slow and low is the only aircraft in our military’s arsenal that can provide accurate Close Air Support and provide our sons and daughters the best aircraft possible. They are worth the effort, and our service members on the ground deserve our best effort.
In Arizona call:
Senator John McCain - 202-224-2235 or 602-952-2410
Senator Jeff Flake - 202-224-4521 or 602-840-1891
Rep Ann Kirkpatrick(D1) -202-225-3361 or 520-316-0839
Rep Ron Barber(D2) - 202-225-2542 or 520-881-3588
Rep Raul M. Grijalva(D3) - 202-225-2435 or 520-622-6788
Rep Paul A. Gosar(R4) - 202-225-2315 or 480-882-2697
Rep Matt Salmon(R5) - 202-225-2635 or 480-699-8239
Rep David Schweikert(R6) - 202-225-2190 or 480-946-2411
Rep Ed Pastor (D7) - 202-225-4065 or 602-256-0551
Rep Trent Franks (R8) - 202-225-4576 or 202-225-4576
Rep Kyrsten Sinema (D9) - 202-225-9888 or 602-956-2285