VIDEO: U.S. REP. RON BARBER UNSATISFIED WITH AIR FORCE ANSWERS ON A-10 REPLACEMENT
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today strongly pushed back on an Air Force proposal to retire the A-10, saying the military has failed to adequately explain how it will protect ground troops without the A-10.
“Today I asked the secretary of the Air Force about specific scenarios in which the A-10 is the only plane that can provide protection to our troops,” Barber said today. “I believe I didn’t get the answer because they don’t have one. The Warthog is a unique plane with unique capabilities.”
Barber, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, today questioned Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James about Air Force plans to retire the iconic A-10, which has been nicknamed “Warthog.”
Barber, who has long been fighting to protect the A-10, was joined by several other members of the committee who questioned whether the Air Force is prepared to protect ground troops if the A-10 is taken out of service.
“There are critical elements of the close-air support mission that multi-role fighters simply cannot perform like the A-10,” Barber told James.
Video of Barber’s questioning can be seen here:
Barber asked about a scenario in which U.S. troops are engaging the enemy within 100 meters on a fluid battlefield with moving targets and a low cloud ceiling. “This is what the A-10 does best,” Barber said.
James told Barber that “the mission would be covered by other aircraft that might require some other training for some other pilots for them to get good at these particular areas.”
Time limitations prevented Barber from following up his question, but he later said he was unsatisfied with James’ answer.
“The path we are on is a very grave problem and a danger to our troops and our security,” Barber said. “What’s the plan when there’s no other airframe that can perform these capabilities? I’m going to keep pushing the Air Force and fighting for the A-10.”
Since he took office in 2012, Barber has been focused on saving the A-10.
Hank Peck, chairman of the DM50 Public Policy Committee, this week said, “Congressman Ron Barber is a leader in the fight to preserve the defense assets in our region and across Arizona, a key issue for business and education leaders in Southern Arizona. He has been fighting with us since before he took office to protect the A-10 and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.”
The DM50 is a group formed to support the mission and the personnel of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.
Rep. Adam Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, this week praised Barber’s work on behalf of Davis-Monthan.
"Ron Barber has been in the forefront of the fight to save the A-10 since he got to Washington in 2012,” Smith said. “Ron has made it his job to bring me to his district and see first-hand the amazing work that is done for our national security at Arizona’s military installations and defense industry.
“Southern Arizona is fortunate and well-served by Ron Barber,” Smith added. “He is diligent, passionate, and a fighter for our national security and the people he represents.”
Earlier this week, Barber sharply criticized the Air Force’s plans to phase out A-10s, which are stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, beginning in 2015.
In its detailed proposal for force structure changes nationwide, the Air Force said it plans to retire the A-10 in stages before 2019.
Under the proposal, Davis-Monthan, a major training base for A-10 pilots, would lose its 55 active-duty A-10s in fiscal years 2015 and 2016 – between Jan. 1, 2015 and Sept. 31, 2016.
In fiscal year 2019, 28 reserve A-10s stationed at D-M would be deactivated. That same year, 21 combat-ready Air Force Reserve F-16s would be stationed at D-M.
A congressional mandate prevents the Pentagon from taking any action to retire the A-10 during 2014. Barber led the fight in the House, working with Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate, to prevent divestment of the A-10 in the National Defense Authorization Act.
“I fought alongside my colleagues to protect the A-10 in 2014 and I we will continue working to keep this aircraft flying,” Barber said.
In addition to being a key piece of the military’s arsenal, the A-10 is important to the Southern Arizona economy. It is the main plane flown at D-M, which has an economic impact to Southern Arizona of at least $1.5 billion annually.
Barber has noted that the A-10 is being targeted for retirement in large part because of sequestration – the irresponsible, across-the-board budget cuts that have hit national defense especially hard.
Friday, March 14, 2014
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