As questions loom over the fate of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s A-10 Thunderbolt II fleet, the Pima County Board of Supervisors announced its position against recommended cuts by the U.S. Secretary of Defense to retire the base’s most popular fighter jet.
As marked by U.S. Representative Ron Barber, D-Ariz. in a recent argument for the A-10, the fleet’s retirement could mean significant economic impacts to the Tucson region, but even more importantly, could mean the extinction of a jet that has become known for saving troops’ lives because of its heavy armor and ability to fly low and slow over battlefields, thereby providing close air support.
While the board’s approval of the memorandum of support for the A-10 and Davis-Monthan may do little to sway a federally based recommendation, supervisors said in a March 11 meeting they hoped to create a chain effect with other area municipalities by demonstrating support for the aircraft.
“I think it’s important for all of us to show support for these proclamations and resolutions, that we’re actively involved, and that we’re welcoming to the base and its missions,” said District 4 Supervisor Ray Carroll.
Carroll added that adopting the memorandum is just another step in the right direction toward attracting the attention of those who will ultimately make the decision on which defense cuts are made, and where.
“The defense department wants to see us,” he said. “They invite us to come back. They want to know that we’re involved, and support these missions.”
Mike Grassinger, president of the Davis-Monthan support organization known as DM50, is currently in Washington D.C. rallying on behalf of the A-10.
The memorandum advocates on behalf of the A-10 mission, but also supports any new mission, flying or otherwise, that Davis-Monthan or other bases in the region could support.
Rumors have swirled that the F-35 could be the jet to replace the A-10, but Grassinger has said in recent weeks he thinks the decision is still a ways out.
Brent DeRaad, CEO of Visit Tucson, recognized Davis-Monthan’s economic impact of nearly $1.2 billion each year to the local community.
The board passed the resolution of support unanimously.
In a release, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. applauded the board’s decision.
“Community support for the mission of Davis-Monthan, and the men and women who serve there, is essential to ensuring its future service to our state and nation,” the release reads.
In other news, some county residents are still voicing their displeasure with a Feb. 18 board decision to sweep $872,000 in road maintenance funds from north side District 1.
The funds were shifted to fix Colossal Cave Road in Vail, which falls in Supervisor Ray Carroll’s District 4.
Keith Van Heyningen, a District 4 resident, said the decision was unfair to District 1 taxpayers.
“Stop stealing from Peter to pay Paul,” he said. “Peter is getting pissed off, and that’s all there is to it.”
Oro Valley resident Geri Ottoboni criticized the board for a go-along to get-along attitude, saying the result has been mismanaged roads in Pima County.
She said District 1’s Thornydale Road, much like Colossal Cave Road, is a roadway that runs by schoolchildren and needs repair.
“To hurt the children of this district is shocking,” she said.
The board approved the fund shifts in a 4-1 vote, with District 1 Supervisor Ally Miller objecting.
After the board’s approval of an attorney-client privilege waiver, documents released by Pima County Chief Civil Deputy Attorney Christopher Straub state the board broke no laws in shifting funds between districts.