In a letter to Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders, Major General William D. Wofford, the Adjutant General for Arkansas, offers some hope for the 188th Fighter Wing.
While the A-10s will be eliminated due to cuts in the U.S. defense spending, Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Mark Welsh III has proposed sending a targeting squadron to the base to go with the remotely piloted aircraft mission.
The letter is dated just six days after the general’s visit to Fort Smith.
“I think General Welsh was impressed not just with the community but also with the advantages that the 188th has with the airspace that we have, with the proximity to the Fort Chaffee training center,” said Mayor Sanders.
According to the letter, the targeting squadron will result in “a total gain of 106 airmen to the Arkansas Air National Guard.”
Mayor Sanders said more details about the squadron will be available Friday.
Local business owners worried the 188th would close after losing the A-10 mission. They depend on the business employees of the 188th bring them.
“We were worried about it shutting down because there are so many other businesses that have already shut down so we didn’t want to lose them,” said Cindy Waggoner, owner of Eunice’s Country Cookin’ in Fort Smith.
Susan Tucker, owner of River City Deli, said people who work at the 188th have been big supporters of her restaurant which just celebrated its one year anniversary.
“We support them. We need them. We want them,” said Tucker.
Mayor Sanders said the targeting squadron is good news for the Fort Smith community and its businesses. “This is a winning situation.”