On Tuesday night May 12, 2015, the little city of South Tucson passed a resolution in support of the A-10 and Davis Monthan Air Force base. While it may seem like a simple gesture to many, it is exactly the kind of move that towns should be making in light of the recent inclusion of a “militarywide review of “force-structure plans and infrastructure inventory” in the 2016 NDAA.
In other words, the military is pushing for BRACS (base closures).
According to the Military Times, “Pentagon officials won’t get congressional permission for a new base closure round next year. But they might be inching closer.”
In order to avoid even a discussion of BRACs heading into an election year, the NDAA language only allows the military to create a justification for downsizing the following year.
In the past, BRACs have not proven to be cost-saving, but as the Military Times reports, “Defense Department officials frequently estimate that they have up to 20 percent excess capacity at stateside bases and argue that a new base closing round could produce billions in annual savings.” This argument flies in the face of historic reality.
So while big cities like Tucson ignore the realities of a loss of $1.6 billion into their local economy by the Davis Monthan base, others are scrambling to show that they do support the missions and presence in their communities.
According to force structure maps, bases like Davis Monthan could be the first on the chopping block. That is why it is imperative for cities to step up and call on Congress to strip the provision calling for the report out of the final defense authorization bill.
South Tucson Mayor Paul Diaz is now taking the South Tucson resolution to the Pima Association of Governments (PAG) and urging them to pass one of their own.
According to former Congressman Ron Barber, PAG’s failure to act has been unfortunate. Earlier this month, another group, the DM50, visited the Hill, but misstepped when they advocated for non-flying missions.
Flying missions are exactly the type of mission that could save Arizona bases which use the unique Barry Goldwater range and virtually 100% number of days ideal for them to perform the flight training missions.