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Fighter Pilot Turned Congresswoman Throws Wrench In Quiet Plans To Cut A-10 Squadrons
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.
Video footage of a purported "bombing of Kurd civilians" by Turkish military forces shown on ABC News appeared to be a nighttime firing of tracer rounds at a Kentucky gun range.
For U.S. service members who have fought alongside the Kurds, President Donald Trump's decision to approve repositioning U.S. forces in Syria ahead of Turkey's invasion is a naked betrayal of valued allies.
"I am ashamed for the first time in my career," one unnamed special operator told Fox News Jennifer Griffin.
In a Twitter thread that went viral, Griffin wrote the soldier told her the Kurds were continuing to support the United States by guarding tens of thousands of ISIS prisoners even though Turkey had nullified an arrangement under which U.S. and Turkish troops were conducting joint patrols in northeastern Syria to allow the Kurdish People's Protection Units, or YPG, to withdraw.
"The Kurds are sticking by us," the soldier told Griffin. "No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
The U.S. military's seemingly never-ending mission supporting civil authorities along the southwestern border will last at least another year.
On Sept. 3, Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to provide a total of up to 5,500 troops along the border until Sept. 30, 2020, Lt. Gen. Laura Richardson, commander of U.S. Army North, said on Monday.
Editor's note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia announced on Monday it would hold a large test of its Strategic Missile Forces that will see it fire ballistic and cruise missiles from the land, sea and air this week.
The exercise, from Oct. 15-17, will involve around 12,000 military personnel, as well as aircraft, including strategic nuclear bombers, surface ships and submarines, Russia's Ministry of Defense said in a statement.