House Armed Services Committee chairman visits Fort Rucker

October 17, 2011
Roby in the News
During his first visit to Fort Rucker in his two years as a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Chairman Buck McKeon, R-California, toured the post on Monday to find out much of what he said he didn’t know.

The tour came at a time when the U.S. defense budget could face more than $1 trillion in cuts over 10 years and $465 billion in cuts already. McKeon said this was the first time in his lifetime that Congress discussed military cuts during wartime, although Congress has cut the defense budget after a war.

McKeon said military officials are expected to present potential recommendations for cuts in January. Some House Republicans have pushed for more federal entitlement cuts before any more defense cuts are made.

McKeon spoke with soldiers during his tour and watched a Helicopter Overwater Survival Training observation.

 “Very few Americans have a clue about what happens here (on Fort Rucker). ... There’s a lot of detailed things that they learn here and when we talk about (cuts for) the military, those are the types of things that we have to make sure we protect. …,” McKeon said before boarding an aircraft for Mobile.

 “Every Army pilot that we have flying these helicopters was trained here. I didn’t know how they’re trained here. I’ve had the opportunity to see that today, and a lot more is learned than just how to fly. … (Congresswoman Martha Roby) tells us about Fort Rucker, but until you see these things, hearing about it is not the same as seeing it on the ground.”

Fort Rucker officials said McKeon is the first chairman of the House Armed Services Committee to visit the installation. McKeon said his visit came after an invitation from Roby, R-Montgomery, who also serves on the committee.

Fort Rucker Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Anthony Crutchfield, said McKeon’s visit was significant in Crutchfield’s effort to increase relations with local, regional and national communities.

Crutchfield said he did not fear cuts for the military, but was as concerned as any American for which cuts are necessary in the federal budget.

“There are more aviators in the war today than there were at the height of the surge in 2008 and they’re asking for more. We understand that there have to be cuts for everybody because of the economy. We don’t need equipment (in the Army), we just have to fix what we have. We understand that we can’t waste a thing,” he said.

McKeon said the strength of the military can be seen in the willingness of the military personnel who sign up for service to their country.

“We have a great generation that after 10 years of war, they are still signing up, knowing that there is a possibility that they will have to put their life on the line,” he said.

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