Mayor Bieter accepted a personal invitation from the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James, to attend the May 5-7 event, which provides an opportunity for civilian leaders, officers, and AWC students to engage on national and international security issues.
Mayor Bieter views this trip as an important opportunity to advocate for and further strengthen Boise’s relationship with the broader Air Force community. Such relationships will be essential as the Air Force discusses retiring its fleet of A-10 Thunderbolts, including those operated out of Boise’s Gowen Field by the Idaho Air National Guard.
“I look forward to updating Air Force and national security leaders on our community’s desire to see Gowen Field continue as an integral part of the Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force’s future,” Bieter said. “This forum will give me a great opportunity to discuss the broader national security picture and advocate for a long-term, stand-alone mission for Gowen Field if the A-10 is retired.”
Mayor Bieter’s trip comes on the heels of Secretary James’s February visit to Gowen Field. In addition to Secretary James, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark A. Welsh III – who will be at the Forum – and Director of the Air National Guard Stanley Clarke have visited Gowen in the last year. These visits illustrate that the Air Force is taking its decisions about the Idaho Air National Guard and Gowen Field’s futures seriously.
Support for the A-10s remains steadfast in Congress, as demonstrated by the fact that the House Armed Services Committee’s proposed annual defense bill – passed by the Committee last week – fully funds the A-10 and includes a prohibition on the plane’s early retirement. For Gowen, such a retirement would move the Idaho Air National Guard to an association with F-15Es at Mountain Home Air Force Base – a significant blow to the Treasure Valley Economy. Mayor Bieter has worked closely with members of the Idaho congressional delegation to resist Air Force plans to roll back Gowen Field’s role in national security.
At the local level, the Treasure Valley has been active in showing its support for Gowen and the A-10s that call it home. Mayor Bieter joined with community leaders to create Gowen Strong, which is advocating for a long-term flying mission for the brave men and women of the Idaho Air National Guard at Gowen Field, including, possibly, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
“I continue to strongly believe that a robust Gowen will be vital to the future of the Air Force as it seeks to modernize and innovate,” Mayor Bieter said. “I am confident the people of Boise are with me on this, and I will continue to advocate for Gowen and Boise to military and congressional leaders, including those attending this week’s forum at the Air War College.”