WARNER ROBINS -- Speaking at the Robins Region Progress Report on Monday, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss gave a stark assessment of the current state of the nation’s finances and its implications for Robins Air Force Base.
“If we don’t get our arms around this $14.5 trillion debt, and if don’t get our arms around this annual deficit in excess of $1 trillion that we have run for the last two years, and that we know we are going to run for this year, then this country is headed toward bankruptcy, pure and simple,” he said.
Chambliss was speaking to an audience of about 200 business people and Robins supporters at the annual event designed to inform the community about issues related to the base. It was held at the Museum of Aviation.
Chambliss said reducing the debt significantly will require across-the-board cuts, including entitlements. The military already is scheduled for significant cuts, he noted, and those could become even more significant.
He said community support of the base is much needed with the possibility that the Air Force could be forced to look at ways to consolidate the work done at the three air logistics centers, one of which is Robins.
“We are in such different times today than we were in 1995 and 2005,” he said, referring to previous Base Realignment and Closure Commission actions. “You are going to have to recommit yourselves stronger than ever to supporting this base.”
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., followed Chambliss and expressed similar concerns about the possibility of military budget cuts hitting Robins.
He said solving the deficit is not just about cuts, but about setting policy that will encourage economic growth, thereby generating more revenue.
“You can’t cut the budget far enough to balance it,” he said. “You’ve got to have economic growth.”
Retired Maj. Gen. Rick Goddard, former Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander, told the audience Chambliss’ and Scott’s words are a call to action to the community.
“They have painted a picture I think we can all understand,” said Goddard, an adviser for the Robins-boosting 21st Century Partnership. “We as a community have got to work very hard.”
He said while many people concern themselves primarily with BRAC, “death by a thousand cuts” -- where missions are gradually taken away -- should also be a concern.
Also speaking was Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander. He said his top priority is securing alternative access to the base, which is currently accessible only from Ga. 247.
Other issues discussed were air quality and encroachment, both of which Chambliss and other speakers cited as vitally important issues to keeping missions at Robins and winning new missions.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.