In preparation for America’s longest combat engagement drawing to a close in December, the nation’s civilian and military leaderships in Washington are weighing potential threats against needed assets and capabilities. At first glance, the facts seem grim for any state with major defense operations like Arizona.
President Obama’s proposed defense budget seeks to shrink the military over the next five years by curtailing or eliminating weapons programs and significantly reducing troops. The debate is far from settled, but what seems clear is that future military operations will be smaller, have newer but fewer weapons systems, and be faced with a declining budget. Military base closures could also be on the horizon.
As one who aspires to lead Arizona, I believe that our state can and will continue to play a critical role in national defense operations. I will make it a top priority to continue Gov. Jan Brewer’s leadership in this fight. The key will be to avoid second-guessing the military’s decision to adopt new weapon systems — to do so would be at the expense of the strategic fight ahead. Instead, we must convince Washington that Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Arizona’s other military installations are critical war-fighting assets that can uniquely serve the military in the long term, and doing so will be a significant public policy goal under a Ducey administration.
I fully support the military missions in Arizona. For Fort Huachuca, Davis-Monthan, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Yuma Proving Grounds, Luke Air Force Base and our Arizona National Guard installations — we must work to secure their place in our arsenal of freedom. As governor, I will lead the fight to ensure that as long as there are military uses for our defense assets, they will remain in Arizona.
Now’s the time to argue that Davis-Monthan and Arizona’s other military assets are important for reasons beyond the current deployment of assets. After all, one need only to drive by the “Boneyard” at Davis-Monthan to see tangible evidence that advancing technology eventually renders once state-of-the-art aircraft obsolete, no matter how beloved.
We can do this by simultaneously reminding the Department of Defense that D-M, the Air National Guard wing at Tucson International Airport and Luke are premier homes for the Joint Strike Fighter and other future missions. We can also continue Gov. Brewer’s sensible fiscal policies concerning encroachment, which preserve and enhance our military facilities’ utility and functionality.
As a state, we must speak with a unified voice that shows how Arizona’s military installations stand ready to help America achieve its strategic military goals. Whether it is our nearly flawless flying weather or proximity to the world-class Barry M. Goldwater Range, Davis-Monthan, Tucson International Airport and Arizona’s other military installations inextricably complement the sustainment of American military dominance and the development of our nation’s future military capabilities. For Southern Arizona, this is an argument we cannot afford to lose.