U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA), joined 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), wrote a letter to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh urging them to consider locating new missions at Georgia military bases. They also voiced their opposition to premature divestment of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, saying this could jeopardize our nation’s close-air support capabilities and the safety of American service members.
“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. “Maintaining air dominance through the mid-2020’s and beyond is non-negotiable for our national security objectives.”
The letter praised the recent announcement by the Air Force that both Robins and Moody Air Force Bases were being considered possible candidates for the new MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Wing, writing that installations and community partners are “eager to help the teams as they asses each location.” Georgia members also pointed out, as the Air Force assesses bases for the Battlefield Airman Consolidation initiative, that the significant presence of battlefield airman in the 93rd Air Ground Operations Wing at Moody Air Force Base makes it an “ideal location for this consolidation effort.”
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 since 2012. The Georgia congressional delegation warned of the risk that divesting the A-10 without an equal replacement would have on ground troops, including those in Syria who rely on critical close air support for their fight against 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.”
Members of the Georgia congressional delegation, led by Isakson, have held meetings with key officials from each of the Armed Services in Washington, D.C. They have also visited both Robins Air Force Base and Moody Air Force Base to discuss the importance of the Georgia-based military equities and assets that play a major role in our national defense. Last month, officials from Robins Air Force Base were welcomed to D.C. for the first annual Robins Air Force Base Congressional breakfast, an event to promote the military and economic value of the base.
You can read the delegation’s full letter here.