Traverse City Record-Eagle

Opinion

May 20, 2014

Another View: A-10 Thunderbolt fleet should be preserved

Candice Miller is fighting to protect the A-10 Thunderbolt fleet. It is a battle the congresswoman and other A-10 advocates deserve to win.

Few Pentagon budget cut proposals have raised more protest than the Thunderbolt’s retirement. The plane, nicknamed “The Warthog” for its distinctive appearance, has a long and distinguished history that began in the Cold War and continues today.

The Obama administration’s 2015 budget proposes to eliminate the Thunderbolt fleet. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel defends the elimination as efficient. It would save $3.5 billion through three years. Besides, he said, the fleet has lived beyond its effectiveness.

“The ‘Warthog’ is a venerable platform, and this was a tough decision,” Hagel said. “But the A-10 is a 40-year-old single-purpose airplane originally designed to kill enemy tanks on a Cold War battlefield.”

Combat ground troops have an opposite perspective. Most love the A-10 Thunderbolt, especially its GAU-8 Avenger, a 30-mm rotary cannon, the heaviest weapon on any plane.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno reiterated combat troops’ love for A-10 fleet when he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this month.

Rep. Miller supports a proposed National Defense Authorization Act amendment to preserve the fleet.

“When the U.S. Army’s chief of staff testifies before Congress about our ground troops’ reliance on and confidence in the A-10 fleet, Congress should listen,” Miller said in a written statement.

“Our troops put their lives in harm’s way for our liberty, and we need to make sure we do everything possible to protect them in battle, which is why I stand with my colleagues in the House and Senate to fight for the A-10 fleet and ensure that it remains a ready force for our ground troops until we can provide a suitable alternative.”

The A-10 fleet’s loss would be a major blow to the Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Miller’s 10th Congressional District. The greater issue, however, is the harm the fleet’s elimination could pose to the U.S. military.

The demands of warfare have changed through the decades, but the Thunderbolt continues to be an effective weapon — one that combat troops value and support.

Miller is right to save the fleet.

Times Herald (Port Huron)

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