Alder Rebecca Kemble
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Kemble’s Blog
F-35 Council Resolution
As of this evening Common Council members have received hundreds of emails supporting or opposing the resolution entitled "Responding to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Air National Guard F-35A Operational Beddown". After reading every single email it's clear to me that not everybody has read the resolution or understands why we're putting it forward.
The title of the resolution describes what it is: A direct response to the Air National Guard's EIS - research into the impacts the F-35As will have on our community and the nearby neighborhoods. I urge you to read it if you haven't already.
Alders representing the people who will be most significantly impacted wrote and sponsored the resolution after weeks of research and discussions with residents and Air National Guard staff. Among the reasons motivating us to put out this resolution was to educate the public and our colleagues on the Council about the process and the content of the proposed beddown of F-35s at Truax, as well as the results published in the Draft EIS.
Our resolution is not a statement opposing the 115 Fighter Wing or the base at Truax. It is a statement saying that the significant adverse impacts that our residents will endure (as reported by the EIS) are not acceptable. Furthermore, since the City has no formal role in the noise mitigation process - which wouldn't take place until at least 3 years following the introduction of the first F-35s - we therefore do not support them coming to Madison.
Proponents of the F-35s are saying that if F-35s don't come to Truax the base will close, and with it all of the airport support operations. That assertion has been definitively discredited by Air Force and Air National Guard Personnel.
A recent WSJ article reports that Ann Stefanek, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Air Force, concluded that it's speculative to assume Truax's mission would be in jeopardy without the F-35s. "That's a leap, that's making two and three assumptions together," Stefanek said.
I have personally discussed this issue with 115th Fighter Wing Air National Guard Colonels and Lt. Colonels as recently as this past Thursday night. I was told that Truax has a strategically important Homeland Defense flying mission which will continue regardless of what types of planes are used. If the F-35s don't come here then newer model F-16s or drones would replace the current F-16s when they go out of service.
The EIS itself says that in the "No Action Alternative" (meaning F-35's don't come here) the 115th Fighter Wing will continue its flying mission with F-16s.
The Air Force has many other options about where to site the F-35s, many of them not in dense urban areas. And the 115th Fighter Wing has more options about how to maintain their flying mission into the future without F-35s, as has been confirmed by ANG commanders.
In discussing this issue at the open house meeting on Thursday, and in several prior interactions with ANG command staff they explained that the final round of the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process wrapped up in 2005. All 89 ANG Fighter Wings (including Truax) were looked at in that process. Truax was not selected for closure or mission change. It is not currently on any list for closure, and no new BRAC process is on the horizon.
In its 2020 budget request, the US Department of Defense requested fewer F-35s than planned. According to a recent US Government General Accounting Office report, the US Department of Defense has not yet made a decision for full rate production of F-35s due to several years delay in operational testing, which is still not complete. The US Department of Defense has not fully committed to the F-35, and Congress hasn't yet provided funds. That report is really interesting reading about how the F-35 program is going.
Opening the formal portion of last Thursday's ANG open house, 115 Fighter Wing Commander Col. Erik Peterson said of the five alternative sites under consideration: "No final decision has been made. Until a final decision has been made all alternatives are under consideration and are treated equally."
The City Council will take action on our resolution tomorrow night, but public comments on the Draft EIS are open through September 27. You may register your comments through this link.
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