A state senator worries about the future of Offutt Air Force Base and says the time to act is now.
Sen. Tommy Garrett worries the flying mission at Offutt Air Force Base could be in the cross-hairs of the Pentagon as it trims its budget.
“At one point that was the largest flying wing in the United States Air Force. It’s huge,” Garrett says. “That (shutting down the flying mission) would have a severe economic impact on Nebraska and our local economy.”
Garrett, a military veteran and current defense contractor, says budget pressure continues to mount on the Defense Department which continues to operate under the across-the-board sequester cuts in effect since 2013.
The pressure could have the Pentagon thinking again about BRAC, Base Realignment And Closing. BRAC has been used to close and consolidate military bases in the past.
Garrett says renovations won’t guarantee longevity. He says he’s seen the Pentagon close an Air Force base that had just undergone renovations. Still, Garrett says Offutt needs a new runway, and the support of the state.
BRAC, according to Garrett, reviews a report about the community and the state in which the base is located. Garrett says Nebraska needs to be perceived as friendly to both to the military and veterans. He says any legislation that enhances the state’s reputation in that regard will help.
“The time for us to be aware of this and sensitive to it is ahead of time, not once the decision has been made to have a BRAC, because by then we’re too far behind the power curve.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]