05.12.16

Georgia Congressional Delegation Fights For Georgia Defense Priorities

Urges top Air Force officials to bring new missions to Georgia, preserve critical close-air support

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) were joined today by U.S. Representatives Buddy Carter (R-GA-01), Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02), Hank Johnson (D-GA-04), Austin Scott (R-GA-08), and Tom Graves (R-GA-14) in urging two key U.S. Air Force officials to consider locating new missions at Georgia military bases while also voicing their opposition to premature divestment of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, saying it could jeopardize our nation’s close-air support capabilities and the safety of American service members.

They invited the Air Force to assess Georgia bases for any future F-35 Joint Strike Fighter basing decisions.

“We must remain ahead of our adversaries as they strive to rapidly develop and proliferate their own versions of advanced stealth fighter aircraft and weapons systems,” the Georgia Congressional delegation wrote in a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh. “Maintaining air dominance through the mid-2020s and beyond is non-negotiable for our national security objectives.” 

The delegation also praised the recent announcement by the Air Force that both Robins and Moody Air Force Bases were being considered as possible candidates for the new MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Wing, stating that “both installations and community partners are eager to help your teams as they assess each location.”

Further, as the Air Force assesses bases for the Battlefield Airman Consolidation initiative, the Georgia members pointed out that the significant presence of battlefield airmen in the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base makes it an ideal location for this consolidation effort.

Since 2012, the Department of Defense and Air Force have discussed plans to retire a percentage of the A-10 fleet to support the transition to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Georgia Congressional delegation warned of the increased risk that divesting the A-10 without an equally capable replacement would have on ground troops, including those in Syria who rely on this critical close-air support for their fight against the Islamic State in Iraq or the Levant, or ISIL.

“We remain lock-step in our opposition to retiring the A-10 aircraft until a replacement becomes fully operational,” the Georgia delegation continued. “If the schedule published in the fiscal year 2017 presidential budget force structure actions slide comes to fruition, Moody Air Force Base will start losing 24 A-10s and associated personnel in fiscal year 2021. A loss of that magnitude will undoubtedly result in negative impacts across the surrounding communities.”

This Congress, members of the Georgia Congressional delegation have held a number of meetings with key officials from each of the armed services in Washington, D.C., and have visited both Robins Air Force Base and Moody Air Force Base to discuss the importance of Georgia-based military equities and assets that play a critical role in our national defense. Last month, the delegation welcomed officials from Robins Air Force Base to Washington, D.C., for the first annual Robins Air Force Base Congressional Breakfast to promote the military and economic value of the base.