U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, says Arkansas’ Congressional delegation and community leaders in the Fort Smith area will have to work hard to stop the “pure political decisions” behind an Air Force restructuring plan that will dramatically change the mission of the Fort Smith-based 188th Fighter Wing.
Womack is also hoping a change in his House committee membership will give Arkansas and the 188th more leverage in Defense Department discussions.
Broad cuts in U.S. defense spending include the removal of the 20 A-10 Thunderbolt fighter plans from the 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith. The unit has almost 1,000 full- and part-time employees. The loss of the fighter mission is scheduled to be replaced with the unmanned Predator drone. The drones and intelligence specialists needed to analyze drone-driven data would not be based in Fort Smith.
Members of Arkansas’ Congressional Delegation – U.S. Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; and U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, Tim Griffin, Mike Ross and Steve Womack – have repeatedly sought answers from U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Air Force generals on the data used to make the decision to cut the A-10’s out of the 188th mission. The most recent letter was sent Nov. 27 to Gen. Mark Welsh III, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force. Click here to read the full story from our partners at TheCityWire.com.