Fighter Pilot Turned Congresswoman Throws Wrench In Quiet Plans To Cut A-10 Squadrons

Photo via DoD

Buried in the Department of Defense’s fiscal year 2018 budget request released in May was deadly surprise for U.S. troops downrange: After years of debate, the Air Force called on Congress to “fully fund the entire fleet” of 283 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, including $17.5 million in investment funding to help modernize the Air Force’s squadrons of the beloved Warthog attack aircraft.

But the future of everyone’s favorite close air support craft isn’t as set as it may seem.

During a House Armed Service Committee hearing on combat air modernization programs on June 7, Air Force R&D; Chief Lt. General Arnold Bunch testified that the service “is committed to maintaining a minimum of six A-10 combat squadrons flying and contributing to the fight through 2030 [with] additional A-10 force structure is contingent on future budget levels and force structure requirements.”

No bored civilian watching C-SPAN would’ve noticed Bunch’s slip, but luckily Republican Rep. Martha McSally did. The Arizona congresswoman and first female Air Force fighter pilot flew the A-10 herself in Iraq and Afghanistan and has fought to stave off the fleet’s retirement for years. (In April, McSally claimed that she described the A-10 to President Trump as “a badass airplane with a big gun on it.”)

"It's the first time you've publicly said that you are going to go down to six squadrons," McSally told her fellow HASC lawmakers, pushing Bunch to clarify exactly how many of the 283 Warthogs would see combat in the coming years. "I'd really like to know what those planning assumptions are of the six squadrons."

It’s a much-needed question from a woman who has first-hand experience with both the awesome power of the A-10 and the political gymnastics of the clods in Congress. The A-10’s future status has vacillated wildly in recent years not just over the aircraft’s long-term combat effectiveness, but thanks to the defense spending cuts that came out of the debt-ceiling crisis of 2011.

Unfortunately, McSally never got an answer because the hearing was coming to an end; however, she posed her questions under the terms that the Air Force would submit written a response on the record.

Bunch and McSally’s did not immediately respond to request for comment from Task & Purpose, but this likely won’t be the last conversation lawmakers have about the future of the A-10 — and hopefully the beloved Warthog will live to brrrt! another day.

Several hundred U.S. troops will remain in Syria after allied forces clear ISIS fighters out of their last stronghold in the country, a senior administration official told Task & Purpose on Friday.

President Donald Trump announced in December that he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, but Sen. Lindsey Graham has since made a strong push to keep a small residual force along the Turkish border along with troops from European allies.

Read More Show Less
Chris Osman (Photo: _chris_osman_designs/Instagram)

The former Navy SEAL among a group of eight men arrested earlier this week in Port-au-Prince on weapons charges says he was providing security work "for people who are directly connected to the current President" of Haiti.

"We were being used as pawns in a public fight between him and the current Prime Minister of Haiti," said Chris Osman, 44, in a post on Instagram Friday. "We were not released we were in fact rescued."

Read More Show Less
Former Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis (DoD photo)

A Richland, Washington city councilman thinks native son Jim Mattis would make a terrific governor or even president.

Read More Show Less

It's a photo for the ages: a Marine NCO, a Greek god in his dress blues, catches the eye of a lovely young woman as her boyfriend urges her on in distress. It's the photographic ancestor of the much-loved "distracted boyfriend" stock photo meme, made even sweeter by the fact that this is clearly a sailor about to lose his girl to a Devil Dog.

Well, this photo and the Marine in it, which hopscotched around Marine Corps Facebook and Instagram pages before skyrocketing to the front page of Reddit on Thursday, are very real.

The photo shows then-Staff Sgt. Louis A. Capozzoli — and he is absolutely not on his way to steal your girl.

Read More Show Less

MAPLE, N.C. -- A maritime center with a pool big enough to hold a small ship and simulate hurricane conditions is set to open in Currituck County, North Carolina, in two years. It will serve to train groups such as special forces, law enforcement and offshore wind crews.

It could be the first of its kind in the world.

Read More Show Less