How To Save Gowen
Last week we had the equivalent of a pep rally for Gowen Field. Did it make a difference? Move the needle? Save Gowen Field? The Boise mayor, our two senators, and the president of the chamber of commerce appeared to solicit the Air Force on how important Gowen Field is to Idaho. What came to that press conference was, in my opinion, uninformed wishful thinking which wasn't challenged by the local press.
Here's what the politicians did not tell you about the future of Gowen Field. The F35A project will not happen. It's a plane that has had multiple safety questions and cost overruns. There's an issue in Arizona over whether the fighter can intake hot fuel. In Canada, they're questioning if the aircraft can fly in the cold. Did I forget to mention that Chinese parts are part of the plane? The plane has not performed as advertised, according to 60 Minutes.
If the F35A program goes live, look for it at Mountain Home, not Gowen. There aren't enough planes available for Air Guard Units. Did our elected officials mention this during the rah-rah session? The answer would be no. Only Senator Crapo relayed the importance of the A10 program.
The Air Force and President Obama will have a difficult time getting rid of the Warthog. Congress is made up of powerful senators like Crapo, McCain, and others who'll make the case for keeping the A10. Hopefully, they'll make a deal to keep it.
The military has no replacement for a beloved platform that troops credit with saving their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Let's get back to Gowen. Here are two scenarios that are being discussed in Washington and Boise.
The A10 program will eventually get transferred or go away. Gowen will get the F15Es. The 'Strike Eagle' is a multi-role strike fighter used in 'Close Air Support.' The fighters will come from other bases pieced together throughout the Air Force. (Notice our politicians did not mention this scenario.)
The other possibility is that the A10s go away; Gowen continues as the headquarters for the Idaho Air Guard. The pilots, planes, and mechanics will be transferred. The job losses would negatively impact the Treasure Valley Economy.
Is it over? Can we do anything to save Gowen? The answer is no it's not over and yes we can save Gowen. It all comes down to getting the return on our investment with our politicians. You know the folks that ask for money and pledge to represent us? Well, now they have to earn their checks.
We need our elected leaders to put down the pom poms and pick up the fight for Gowen. We need elected leaders to lead, not lead us in a group cheer. Our team needs to earn their pay and save Gowen with actions, not pep rallies!