Roby Column - May 22, 2012

May 22, 2012
Representative Roby's Weekly Column
Meeting with Key Air Force Leaders in support of the 908th:
Earlier this year, I led the Alabama Congressional delegation in a request to meet with Air Force leaders and discuss the proposed military spending cuts that may affect Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base. This request was a result of the force structure changes the Air Force announced early in 2012. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz sat down with me and the members of the Alabama delegation last week.

During the meeting, I questioned the methodology that the Air Force used in its decision to either retire or relocate the seven C-130’s from the 908th airlift wing that are based at Maxwell-Gunter. It is encouraging that our Alabama delegation is willing to stand united in our effort to maintain Alabama’s robust defense footprint.

Throughout the meeting, the members of the Alabama delegation and the Air Force leaders agreed that the discussion needs to continue as we move forward in the process. I assure you, we have just begun the conversation.

As your representative, it is my duty to provide oversight for decisions made in Washington that affect our area. Therefore, I offered an amendment to the annual defense bill mandating that the Air Force provide a detailed explanation of the methodology used in its decisions regarding force structure changes to the 908th. The amendment also calls on the Government Accountability Office to determine if the Air Force’s rationale makes good sense for both military personnel and taxpayers. It is a “straightforward” measure to ensure that members of the House Armed Services Committee and others receive quality information from the Air Force. I am glad to report that this amendment was successfully included in the Defense Authorization bill and approved by the House of Representatives. I will be providing updates as the Defense Authorization bill continues to move through Congress.

Representing important military facilities in our area, I remain engaged in the decisions that may affect our military personnel, local jobs, and units’ missions. In a time of serious budget cuts, we must ensure that our service men and women are provided the proper resources they need to complete their missions and accomplish the tasks at hand.

Inevitable funding cuts may change our force structure, but should never be allowed to result in an incapable military or a hollowed force.