Vice chairman of Armed Services Committee to tour Maxwell Air Force Base on Monday
A high-ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee will be in Montgomery on Monday to tour Maxwell Air Force Base and Gunter Annex.
The military community in Montgomery hopes the visit by Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, vice chairman of the committee, will help insulate the base against future budget cuts as the Pentagon downsizes over the next several years.
“We have some national treasures here in terms of capabilities, and it’s always helpful when someone that senior on Armed Services understands what goes on here at Maxwell and Gunter,” said Joe Greene, vice president for military and governmental affairs at the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Armed Services Committee oversees the Defense Department and writes the annual bill detailing defense policy. Thornberry is considered a contender to chair the committee if Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., retires.
Thornberry was invited to Maxwell-Gunter by Reps. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, and Mike Rogers, R-Saks.
“It allows Vice Chairman Thornberry to gain first-hand knowledge of the work being done on base, meet our commanders and community leaders, and hopefully come away with a better understanding of the value Maxwell-Gunter adds to the United States military,” said Roby’s spokesman, Todd Stacy.
Thornberry will spend the day touring the facilities and attending briefings from all of the commanders, Greene said. Air University, the Business and Enterprise Systems Directorate, and the Core Data Center of the Defense Information Systems Agency are among the highlights.
“We want him to see what it is we do here and the impact that budget cuts could have on these operations,” Greene said.
Congress failed to reach a long-term deal to cut the federal deficit, so another round of sequestration spending cuts is scheduled to begin next year. Military leaders have warned those cuts will damage military readiness.
Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh told the Senate last month that the cuts could force the Air Force to reduce flying hours by up to 15 percent.
“As a result, many of our flying units will be unable to fly at the rates required to maintain mission readiness for three to four months at a time,” he said. “We’ll cancel or significantly curtail major exercises, and we’ll reduce our initial pilot production targets.”