At the same time the Arizona House Committee on Military Affairs, lead by Rep. Sonny Borelli and Rep. Mark Finchem, was convening an informational hearing on the fate of Davis Monthan, and the A-10, Arizona Rep. Martha McSally was leading the same charge in D.C.
McSally sent a letter to Chairman Frelinghuysen and Ranking Member Visclosky, with a bipartisan group of 18 lawmakers to urge rejection of the Administration’s plan to divest the A-10 fleet beginning in Fiscal Year 2016. The letter shows across the aisle support in the House for keeping the A-10 funded and opposing the Administration’s plans to mothball the weapons system ahead of schedule.
“We recognize the challenges imposed by the Budget Control Act, but we believe that now is not the time to divest an aircraft that has demonstrated success in combat for decades and has saved lives, especially at a time when there is no suitable replacement,” the lawmakers said in the letter. “We urge you to reject the President’s request to divest the A-10 aircraft fleet in the Fiscal Year 2016 Defense Appropriations bill.”
The Arizona State House Military Affairs Committee was briefed by Lt. Colonel (Retired) Thomas Norris, and Special Ops Joint Terminal Attack Controller, Verne Patterson on the situation with the A-10 and the impact mothballing would have on troops as well as the economic impact the state would suffer if Davis Monthan Air Force base in Tucson was targeted for closure.
Representatives Richard Andrade, Noel Campbell, Anthony Kern, all service members themselves were very familiar with the Warthog and its capabilities and were surprised by the USAF maneuvers. All pledged their support for the aircraft and Davis Monthan.
Rep. Mark Finchem inquired as to why the Air Force would consider the A-10 retirement. Finchem asked if there was “something that may be more nefarious” at work. “You know, you always gotta buy something, something more expensive. And here, by the way, where we’re gonna have to convince you that is no good anymore so you have to buy the shiny new thing. In your estimation,” Finchem asked Norris, “how much of that is it work in this this equation colonel?”
“The defense industry, the industrial complex, if you will, is very much at work here. I believe that the Lockheed lobby is unbelievably strong. I have heard things like because we’re super power we have to be able to conduct the biggest baddest war on the planet despite what’s going on today. So they look out into the future and pick the biggest baddest thing. Plug it into a whopper computer and out spits out what they need to do the job.
Chair Rep. Sonny Borelli, a former Gunnery Sergeant, in the United States Marine Corps, shaking his head in agreement interrupted, “Excuse me, and at the end of the day, the biggest, baddest SOB on the battlefield is that 18 or 19 year old soldier, marine, airman, with an M-16. When we own the sky, we own the battlefield because that’s the real true smart weapon on the battlefield. It’s the boots on the ground that we owe this responsibility to first and foremost. The economy is great,” stated Borelli referring to the concerns regarding base closure, “but first and foremost its American blood that’s the treasure.”
A hearing has been scheduled by Senator Steve Smith, Chair of the Public Safety, Military and Technology Committee for Wednesday.