This is shaping up to be an interesting week.
Though there is plenty going on with the Idaho Legislature and Congress regarding funding things — transportation infrastructure for the Legislature and Homeland Security for Congress — other things also caught my eye.
Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt is going to address fellow Canyon County Republicans at the Lincoln Day Banquet Wednesday. The much beloved and admired Batt will be talking to people from the same party and county in the audience — some of whom don’t vote, think or approach politics as he did. Stay tuned.
Thursday, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James will be paying her first visit to Gowen Field; the air base is home to the Idaho Air National Guard, which could be moving to Mountain Home; Gowen is also home to the A-10 Thunderbolt II “Warthog” mission and there is a proposal to retire it because the Warthog can’t fulfill future needs.
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Boise Mayor Dave Bieter authored a pro Gowen-Guard-Warthog Guest Opinion for the Statesman that appeared on the Opinions page Monday.
The 87-year-old Batt, who is being honored 20 years after his inauguration as Idaho governor, will address colleagues and supporters at the Nampa Civic Center. He is likely to discuss some of the hotter topics within his party.
Batt, a Canyon County native, was quoted in the Idaho Press Citizen Monday saying “There’s more of an adversarial relationship between parties now, which I don’t think is healthy,” adding that he used to have productive conversations with Democrats on a regular basis. “It’s not so much like that anymore, which I think is too bad.”
Batt supports Adding The Words necessary to protect Idahoans from discrimination regardless of their sexual orientation or gender Identity. No Canyon County Republicans on the House State Affairs Committee voted that way after several days of hearings last month. It is unlikely the issue will be taken up by the Legislature again this year. But Batt, who wrote an impassioned Guest Opinion in favor of Add The Words last year, most certainly will bring it up Wednesday. His closing remarks in the Feb. 2014 OpEd were: “I would like to have somebody explain to me who is going to be harmed by adding the words to our civil rights statutes. . .”
Thursday when Sec. James visits Gowen, I think Bieter will be looking for somebody to explain to him why the Boise air base is suddenly unfit for duty.
Bieter is doing what a mayor should do — fighting to keep the mission and the estimated $210 million Gowen economic impact that benefits the Treasure Valley. The trouble is the Air Force has national security, not Treasure Valley viability, in its sights.
Unless somebody quickly comes up with a new A-10 plan in the mission to destroy and degrade ISIL/ISIS, I think the Warthog is going to gradually but certainly fade into aviation warfare history.
When he visited the Statesman last September, Col. David Iverson, commander of the Mountain Home Air Force Base, made a compelling strategy/national security case for retiring the A-10 and saving $3.7 billion over five years. It was all the more impressive because he is a fighter pilot, not a politician. Treasure Valley residents may not like to hear about the A-10's retirement, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary.
The Air Force is downsizing from 330,000 to 311,000 people, according to Fiscal Year 2019 plans. In order to accomplish its mission with fewer people and smaller budgets, the A-10 and all of its logistical support missions have to give way to other existing or incoming aircraft like the F-15E and the F-35A.
The people who fly them in combat and understand what is needed know these planes can do what the A-10 has been asked to do — and even better. The F-35 has stealth ability and can do close combat at lower altitudes: Anti-Access Area Denial.
Our most sophisticated enemies have anti-aircraft capability beyond the A-10 and even the F-15e’s ability (it is non-stealth) to evade in some theaters.
With limited human resources and funding, other aircraft provide the best option for future scenarios and action against state-on-state or non-state aggressors such as ISIS.
The Air Force knows that today and beyond most lives are saved by engaging the enemy at what is called FEBA (Forward Edge of the Battlefield Area) and not the front line loitering in the midst of the battle where the A-10 and its crews for 40 years have served so honorably and effectively.
Talk to Sec. James. Sell Boise and the Treasure Valley as a great place to host another mission — just not the A-10 Warthog.