WASHINGTON, D.C. – Moving the Utah Air and Army National Guard facilities to Hill AFB would be a win-win for all entities involved.
That’s the view of Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah,and local officials agree.
“The Army National Guard is at Fort Douglas, which is property the University of Utah would like to get, and the Air National Guard doesn’t have room to service its newest aircraft. They are in a desperate need to move,” Bishop told The Clipper on Wednesday morning.
Moving both entities to Hill AFB would further enhance the already multi-faceted mission carried out by Davis County’s largest employer, he said.
“There would have to be some new construction, but the runway is there. It would be a perfect fit for the Air National Guard,” Bishop said.
The need for feasibility studies and the lack of funding mean any moves on the part of either facility aren’t going to happen soon.
The Obama Administration has already trimmed a half billion dollars from defense and wants to take more, Bishop said.
If the state were to conduct the study and have that in place when a money transfer were approved it would speed up the process, he said.
“I don’t know if the state is willing to do that (study), but we’ll be talking to them about it,” the congressman said.
“That’s just two ways that could help make the base more purple,” he said, using the term purple to denote multiple uses at HAFB.
The base already hosts ICBM operations, the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings, maintenance and software operations, and much more, Bishop emphasized.
“(HAFB) is going to be a very good facility that can be made ready for (Air and Army National Guards) uses,” said Tage Flint, president of the Utah Defense Alliance.
HAFB has runways, is a more secure facility and has less traffic than the Salt Lake International Airport, where the Air National Guard is now, Flint said.
“I think it would be a win-win,” he added.
“Anything that we can add to that which makes the base more valuable to the military, it’s less likely to be moved (missions),” he said.
As far as a future BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) round, Bishop said he wants to fight any such proposal.
“Even if there were a BRAC, the Air Force has already cut logistics complexes from five to three. That’s the appropriate number,” he said. “There is excess capacity in logistics complexes for the Army and Navy, and they’re much smaller. They could be absorbed very easily into the three Air Force logistics centers.”
Because of the looming so-called fiscal cliff, Bishop expects decisions to be made at the national level soon.
“I expect something to be done,” he said, because “everyone on Capitol Hill is looking at ways” to overcome that possibility of tax increases.
“I’m still hopeful there will be some kind of a resolution, even if it’s only temporary, before the end of the year.”