The words were spoken by former commander of Warner Robins Air Logistic Center, Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard, who at Thursday’s quarterly meeting of the 21st Century Partnership, sent up warning flares.
Why the flares? A new round of decisions by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission hasn’t been slated. Unfortunately for the military, the last vicious debate over the debt ceiling and the subsequent deal to raise it, put the military smack in the cross hair of a congressional gun sight.
If the trigger is pulled we won’t just shoot ourselves in the foot, but in an area that is much more vital.
George Will interviewed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. After discussing some of the secretary’s top concerns — from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to North Korea and the nuclear ambitions of Iran — Will wrote, “Panetta’s most immediate worry, however, is visible from the windows of his office overlooking the Potomac — Capitol Hill, where the ‘supercommittee’ created by August’s debt-ceiling agreement is sitting.
“By Thanksgiving, it will either agree to do something important — reduce the next decade’s debt by at least $1.2 trillion — or its disagreements will trigger something important: A sequester.
“This would take from military budgets nearly $500 billion, in addition to a minimum of $350 billion cuts already scheduled. An almost trillion-dollar trimming, Panetta says flatly, ‘cannot take place.’ Actually, he knows it can: ‘The gun to the head could really go off.’”
Many of the minds sitting in the highest government chambers are so ideologically bound to certain notions that they would put our nation at risk.
The Air Force, already flying planes much older than most of its pilots, would be especially hit hard, and while Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon is turning conditions at the base around, by his own admission, Robins ranks No. 3 among the three air logistic centers.
What can the Middle Georgians do to help with more than just but encouragement? We can look beyond the ideology and demand accountability from our elected representatives. Residents of Bibb County can fight to approve the special purpose local option sales tax on the ballot in November. Funds from that measure would alleviate the encroachment demerit against Robins that’s just waiting to be checked by the Pentagon.
Certainly some of the SPLOST projects might be met with opposition. It’s possible the purchase of properties around the crash zone are not universally accepted.
That said, everyone should agree that allowing the base’s annual contribution into the local economy of more than $4 billion to disappear over pennies, isn’t worth the risk.