There is a grim reality to President Obama’s budget. While we’ve become accustomed to hearing billions and even trillions of dollar figures thrown around, that is real money and a lot of it.
The grim reality for our area centers around Robins Air Force Base. Our reality is no different from other military installations around the country that will be impacted by some of the cutbacks -- if approved by Congress.
If you didn’t know it already, Robins is in a more precarious position since the command of the base was moved to Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Chances are, during the next Base Realignment and Closure commission, scheduled in Obama’s budget for 2015, Tinker would be safe.
That leaves Robins in competition with Hill Air Force Base in Utah. That state is represented by the most senior Republican in the Senate, Sen. Orrin Hatch.
There is no consensus as to what the BRAC might do. Its approach could mean a reduction, shift or increase in missions at some of the depots. It could also mean the Air Force might be looking at two depots rather than three.
The 21st Century Partnership, headed by former base commander retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, is being proactive. Its commissioned studies to see how the Middle Georgia community matches up with Tinker and Hill communities, but the Air Force thinking could be along an entirely different line. It may be looking at overall reductions and deciding what missions have priority for future spending.
It’s well known that the Air Force is flying many aircraft that are twice or more the age of the pilots who fly them. The Air Force could decide to put more emphasis on developing new platforms rather than continuing to jury-rig obsolete airframes.
It is the uncertainty that could grip the area, but 2015 will be here in a blink of an eye. The community should get ready to strap it on and get ready for a tough, hard, competitive process. The only personal agendas that are acceptable are those that place the base in the No. 1 priority position.