By Representative Austin Scott
Now, more than ever, we must unite as a community around the common cause of strengthening Robins Air Force Base. Our nation's budget challenges have led to a reduction in defense spending, and in turn, are having a direct impact on every defense community, including ours in Middle Georgia.
The across-the-board "sequester" cuts, which I opposed, voted against and offered alternatives to replace, have had a number of adverse impacts, including furloughs, reduced depot aircraft inductions and diminished military readiness. I will continue to do all I can in Congress to replace sequestration with sensible budget solutions.
The president has again called for additional rounds of Base Realignment and Closure, including a specific proposal in the White House's Defense budget request for 2014. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I voted against authorizing a new round of base closures. I believe it is the wrong time to close installations while we face global uncertainty and when the future structure of our military force is unsettled. Moreover, previous rounds of BRAC have not produced savings, and closing installations carries significant upfront costs.
The House-passed defense funding bill, which I supported, specifically prohibits a 2014 round of BRAC base closures, which the president continues to push for.
Despite our successful rejection of BRAC by the House this year, the issue will likely reemerge in the near future. We must remain vigilant in our efforts to fortify the Robins community as an invaluable asset to our national security. In the event that sequestration is not replaced this year, there will be additional calls to reduce the force structure of the Air Force and to shutter installations. I assure you I will continue to utilize my position on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness to support the warfighters at Robins and our defense community every step of the way.
With everyone working together, we will emerge a stronger, more competitive military community. In previous rounds of BRAC, the level of community support emerged as an important factor in determining which installations remained intact. Therefore, we have the ongoing task of making Middle Georgia the most attractive destination for military service members and their families and for the Air Force to conduct its mission.
Local officials must continue to identify innovative ways to remove barriers that may encumber military activities. We should seek to make smart investments in infrastructure and community development to improve our competitiveness. In addition, we must seek greater harmony between the civilian workforce and Air Force management at Robins. I believe that the 21st Century Partnership provides an important vision and unifying voice for the community, and offers a number of solutions in these areas.
I look forward to continuing to work with our entire Robins community to ensure Robins remains an integral part of Georgia's economy and our national defense for a very long time.
During recent Congressional hearings, I have gained reaffirmation from our nation's military leaders of the importance of the Air Force's three depot strategy, which is necessary to meet the Air Force's anticipated maintenance requirements for the near future. The House- passed National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 adds $5 billion to defense operations and maintenance accounts to provide crucial funding for weapon systems sustainment. We must continue these efforts to strengthen the depot and increase funding for the Air Force and aircraft maintenance.
While the president continues to insist on cutting funding for the men and women who protect our personal freedoms, he is ignoring the root of our economic problems: entitlement spending and unemployment.
The fact remains, there is no way to guarantee Robins will be exempt from future reductions. However, I will continue to fight to protect Robins Air Force Base and the service personnel who play a critical role in supporting our national security.
We must all stay vigilant as a community to ensure we strengthen and expand Robins Air Force Base.