Efforts are being made both on the federal and state level to insure Offutt Air Force Base remains at its current force strength.
Offutt Air Force Base employs 10,000 military and civilian personnel with an estimated economic impact on Nebraska exceeding one billion dollars annually.
And it serves as a source of pride for our state, according to Congressman Jeff Fortenberry.
“The president landed at Offutt Air Force base when he visited Omaha. President Bush went there immediately after 9/11 by the way,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Fortenberry has assembled an Offutt Air Force Base Task Force. The task force will oversee the Defense Department design and construction of a new runway to replace Offutt’s aging runway.
Fortenberry is the Vice Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
Congressman Brad Ashford says enough money was placed in the military budget during the budget agreement reached at the end of the year to pay for a new runway at Offutt.
Work is also underway at the state Capitol to support Offutt.
State Sen. Sue Crawford of Bellevue sponsors LB 754, a bill that would create a commission to protect and grow military assets, saying Nebraska cannot afford to become complacent about Offutt.
“I think that is a very serious concern. We want to make sure we are not complacent and we’re being proactive and intentional,” Crawford tells Nebraska Radio Network. “We’re competing against other states that are also being very proactive and intentional about recruiting these missions.”
Crawford says the 55th Wing needs to stay busy to keep Offutt viable as an Air Force Base.
Offutt plays a vital role in the nation’s defense as the home of the U.S. Strategic Command, known as STRATCOM. Still, here is a level of concern about Offutt as an Air Force Base, mostly due to that old runway, which Fortenberry calls antiquated, saying it is in disrepair. Also, Fortenberry says the Air Force is looking for savings, because it has 30% excess inventory. He says it is vital Offutt is placed in a competitive position so it isn’t considered a candidate for the budget chopping block.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]