188th Commander: ‘The Conversion Starts Now’

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The finality of the decision to replace the A-10 fighters of the Fort Smith-based 188th Fighter Wing with a vague remotely piloted aerial vehicle recon mission is best encapsulated from a statement within a memo from 188th commander Col. Mark Anderson.

“The conversion starts now. We’ve had the 188th conversion team in place for several weeks now and they are doing outstanding work,” Anderson noted in an internal memo released Tuesday to the Fort Smith Board of Directors.

Broad cuts in U.S. defense spending – possibly up to $500 billion over 10 years – 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 a remotely piloted area vehicle — most likely the Predator drone. The remotely piloted aerial vehicles and intelligence specialists needed to analyze drone-driven data may not be based in Fort Smith. Click here to read the full story from our partners at TheCityWire.com.