I-40 Over The Arkansas River Reopens After Runaway Barges Collide With Dam

Lawmakers Switch Focus to New 188th Mission

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For months the Arkansas' congressional delegation has fought to keep the 188th Fighter Wing’s A-10 mission, but now they’re shifting their focus.

"It is our, should be our focus now to generate all of our energies toward getting the very best possible enduring mission,” said Rep. Steve Womack, R-Arkansas.

The 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith will lose its A-10 flying mission due to Department of Defense budget cuts. Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh, III, toured the base and met with the Arkansas congressional delegation Friday (Jan. 18).

“The intent is to transition into a new mission, not to eliminate the unit,” he said during an afternoon news conference.

Nobody knows when the A-10s will be replaced by unmanned aerial vehicles, in Fort Smith. Like his colleagues Sen. John Boozman, R-Arkansas, wants what's best for the area.

"What I would like to see personally is to keep the A-10's and march forward,” he said. “On the other hand, if that can't be for whatever reason then certainly the next best thing is to have a mission that's an important mission with minimal job loss."

Click here to watch the general’s full news conference.

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