It may be just as Arkansas’ Congressional Delegation suspected: The decision to strip the Fort Smith-based 188th Fighter Wing of its A-10 mission was primarily a factor of domestic geography and politics, instead of foreign geopolitics and unit performance.
A Tuesday (Jan. 15) post on airforce-magazine.com, the online journal of the Air Force Association, cites Col. Michael Norton as saying that retaining a “flying mission in each state was the key deciding factor in allocating cuts across the Total Force A-10 fleet in Fiscal 2013.” Norton is the Air National Guard programs chief in the Pentagon. (See the full magazine posting at the end of this story.)
Broad cuts in U.S. defense spending include the removal of the 20 A-10 Thunderbolt fighter planes 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. Click here to read the full story from our partners at TheCityWire.com.