Military Community Council Supports 188th To Boost Economy

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Local leaders are working with those at the 188th to revitalize relationships and support while showing those in the community what happens at the base.

It's in effort to boost the Fort Smith economy.

More than 50 business owners, politicians and community members are apart of the group known as the Western Arkansas Military Community Council.

Council members plan to meet quarterly, and the next meeting is scheduled during March. Those involved said the goal is to reach at least 100 members for continuous support of the 188th.

"Our mission set is not as visible now as it once was, but we're still very much alive and well," explained Wing Commander Col. Robery Kinney with the 188th.

The 188th is carrying out missions from the wing in Fort Smith. Rather than flying out fighter jets, they're operating remotely piloted aircraft overseas.

"As you grew up in Fort Smith, you got used to the jets. You always knew the jets were there and it was very easy to see how the military was in our community... after the mission change, it's not quite as evident," Kinney said.

But, "There's thousands of men and women out there that are working everyday and they're working on the cutting edge," he added.

That work includes flying, support missions and intelligence surveillance operations," Kinney. "It's about 85 percent manned right now."