By Roger Bourassa
March 31, 2016
Editor’s note: This commentary is by Roger Bourassa, of Colchester, who served in the Marines and is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel. He flew in the F-89, the C-97, and the F-101 and flew all over the world including several missions to Vietnam.
A recent letter to a South Burlington newspaper from a retired Air Force colonel who claims to be an expert on base closings predicts the worst for the Vermont Air National Guard (VTANG) if the F-35A takes a pass on this first round of basing. He predicts a closing of the Guard and a local economic recession while offering nothing to support these claims.
A lawsuit against the secretary of the Air Force is on the docket for later this spring in the Federal District Court in Rutland concerning this issue. The decision may result in a reconsideration by the Air Force on basing the F-35 at VTANG.
The primary arguments used by supporters of the F-35A basing are that opponents are either, 1) unpatriotic and anti-military and, 2) without the F-35A, VTANG would be without a mission. The first argument is plain nonsense. There are many veterans numbered among the opponents to the basing of the F-35A, many of whom have served their country with honor with some serving during wartime, including Vietnam.
The second argument is without evidence and, to the contrary, is challenged by official Air Force statements. The Air Force Revised Environmental Impact Statement (RDEIS) states “… if there is no F-35A operational bed-down at Burlington the current mission would continue” (RDEIS Page PA-47). No public official (military, government, or politician) has EVER said the base will close if the F-35A is not based here.[FULL ARTICLE]