Legislative Column for the Week of Jan. Feb. 2, 2015
Missouri Military in Jeopardy of Major Cuts

Having served 25 years active duty in the United States Air Force, including five tours in Vietnam and six tours in Desert Shield/Desert Storm, I take a tremendous interest in our national defense and the security of our nation. I was pleased to see Senator Dan Brown, R-Rolla, introduce Senate Concurrent Resolution 7 on Monday, Feb. 2, and to watch it receive overwhelming support. The 32 - 0 Senate vote allows the measure to move to the House.

This legislation urges the United States Department of Defense, as well as Missouri’s Congressional delegations, to protect, promote and leverage Missouri’s military bases and agencies, keep the number of personnel in the state intact, as well as Missouri’s defense industry.

Missouri has a sizable military presence. Our state is currently home to numerous military bases and agencies including Whiteman Air Force Base near Knob Noster, which houses its 509th Bomb Wing. This happens to be the only Air Force Unit that operates the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Fort Leonard Wood provides the United States Army Maneuver Support Center; Chemical, Biological, Nuclear and Radiological School (CBNR); Military Police and Engineering Schools. Other facilities include the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) located in Arnold, the Missouri National Guard’s Ike Skelton Training Center (ISTS) in Jefferson City, the Theater Aviation Sustainment Maintenance Group (TASMG) in Springfield and the 139th Airlift Wing in St. Joseph among others.

Throughout Missouri these military bases and agencies account for almost $11.6 billion in household earnings for Missourians and our military personnel, which represents 275,000 jobs for state residents, including military and civilian personnel. However, the Secretary of Defense intends to cut more than $1 trillion over the next decade, which would severely damage Missouri’s economy. Not to mention drastically weakening our country’s defense capability.

These cuts being discussed would reduce the number of soldiers in the United States Army from 562,000 to 420,000; the Marines would see a reduction from 202,000 to 175,000; and the Air Force would cut 25,000. Fort Leonard Wood would have to absorb 52 to 54 percent of these cuts in Missouri. An implausible amount of uncertainty and frustration is being created geared towards how the Department of Defense budgeting will be executed. We know reductions will happen, but it is troublesome that we do not know how deep or far reaching these cuts will be.

Missouri’s military operations play a vital role in the economic activity of our state. It accounts for the fifth highest amount of procurement contracts awarded in the nation, and 160,000 Missouri employees. In addition Missouri’s universities play a vital role in defense research for the government. The procurement contracts we receive are geared towards research, operations and manufacturing, particularly aerospace manufacturing at the Boeing Company, which is Missouri’s third largest employer.

No soldier wants to go to war, but it is a necessary thing. Our enemies force us into war. During a time where we face threats from terrorists such as ISIS and Al-Qaida, along with rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran, who want to obtain enriched plutonium to build atomic bombs, we should not be letting our guard down but rather strengthen our country and state by building our defense systems, not weakening and allowing our nation to become vulnerable.

Just as President Ronald Reagan knew that it was important for America to have a strong national defense, I believe it is even more important to have one now. As a veteran, I am even more passionate in saying we should not tell any American that they cannot serve their country due to cutbacks. I offer my full support to SCR 7 knowing that it will create a stronger economy and a safer Missouri.

On Monday, January 26, I was deeply honored and humbled to be recognized by not only the members of the Air Force, but by members of all military branches through the Missouri Association of Veterans Organizations (MAVO) in recognition of my outstanding service to Missouri veterans during the 2014 Missouri Legislative Session.

Veteran’s affair is something that is always a top priority and a main concern of mine. I hold the upmost respect for all service members that sacrifice their lives for the greater good of all those they will never meet. Serving your country is one of the most selfless acts there is and I cannot express the gratitude I feel to receive such an honor from such outstanding men and women.

I urge you to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about state government so that I can better represent you during the 2015 Legislative Session.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Wayne Wallingford, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101, or email at wayne.wallingford@senate.mo.gov or www.senate.mo.gov/wallingford.

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