By JOHN SOWELL
February 26, 2015
The Idaho Military Advocacy Commission, created by Gov. Butch Otter through an executive order, will be charged with supporting "the missions, the people and the communities where our armed forces perform their duties in Idaho."
The commission will advocate for the missions at Gowen Field in Boise and Mountain Home Air Force Base as those operations respond to changing military needs and the Pentagon's priorities, according to a statement from the governor's office. The group will support the growth of U.S. Department of Defense programs in Idaho and encourage collaboration between the state, counties, cities, the federal government and other advocacy groups. “Idaho has always proudly supported its military. The men and women who serve at Mountain Home and Gowen have long helped our state grow economically as well as maintaining a strong defense for our nation and Idaho,” Otter said in the statement. “But the world is changing fast, and government leaders must work more closely with our communities and the military to strengthen the ability of these installations to meet those challenges.”
Members of the commission will be appointed by the governor. They will include representatives of Otter and Lt. Gov. Brad Little, members from the offices of Idaho's four members of Congress, one member each from the Idaho Senate and House, a member of the Idaho National Guard and six members of the public.
Last week, Otter and other state and local officials urged Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James to retain a flying mission at Gowen Field even if the A-10 Thurderbolt II used by the Idaho Air National Guard is retired.
The Air Force wants to mothball the 1970s-era attack plane and move to the more advanced F-35 stealth fighter. Otter and the others, including Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, emphasized the importance of not sending the A-10s to the scrapyard before the F-35, which has been beset by budget problems and technical issues, is ready to fly.
Otter said it would be difficult to restore a flight program if the A-10 is retired and flight crews at Gowen Field are disbanded.