I write in my weekly Stephens Media column this week about a tangible way Arkansas Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman can put their money where their mouth is on preventing Arkansas military bases from closing. I write…
While both senators have focused specifically on the A-10 mission of the 188th, they also should be concerned with the President Obama’s desire to cut back on the size of our country’s military capabilities, a desire transparent by his nomination of Chuck Hagel as the Secretary of Defense. Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska, has indicated he fully backs Obama in the desire to pare down what he considers a “bloated” Pentagon.
“Defense Department, I think, in many ways, has been bloated. So I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down. I don’t think that our military has really looked at themselves strategically, critically, in a long, long time,” said Hagel in an interview with UK’s The Financial Times back in 2011.
It is not clear exactly where Hagel would seek to pare down our national defense but such a sentiment should not give much comfort to those wanting to see continued missions of the 188th in Fort Smith or the 314th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base.
Both senators have withheld judgment on the confirmation of Hagel until after the Senate hearings.
The votes will be worth watching. Pryor, a Democrat, will have to split from most his party to oppose the president’s nomination.
If both truly care about keeping the military bases open in Arkansas, opposing the confirmation of someone who apparently wants to close them down seems like a no brainer.
The confirmation hearing begins tomorrow so I hope both Arkansas senators will be watching closely to hear exactly what he means by “pare down” our military.