U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
From the Office of U.S. Tom Udall:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall highlighted the critical role that New Mexico’s military bases play in national security, and urged support for funding and resources for military construction projects at New Mexico’s Air Force bases and White Sands Missile Range during a hearing Thursday of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies.
Udall questioned Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management and former White Sands Commanding Officer Lt. Gen. Gwendolyn Bingham about the fiscal year 2019 needs of military construction projects at Holloman Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range, and called for making the basing of the two additional F-16 training squadrons permanent. Udall also discussed the new Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Space RCO) at Kirtland Air Force Base, including the need to expedite military construction in order to meet national security priorities and improve partnerships with private enterprise in New Mexico.
Udall, along with Senator Heinrich and U.S. Representative Steve Pearce, has championed the effort to relocate two additional F-16 squadrons to Holloman. The squadrons are currently located at Holloman on an interim basis, awaiting a final decision from the Air Force on permanent relocation. “In my opinion, the Air Force should move quickly to make the F-16 basing permanent at Holloman. Moving to another base will likely cost additional money for MILCON and will sap time from the airmen working to alleviate the pilot shortage,” Udall said during the hearing.
Udall also highlighted the need for additional funding for Kirtland Air Force Base’s new Space Rapid Capabilities Office to ensure the base is adequately equipped to meet the Air Force’s goals for space launches. The Air Force aims to utilize Kirtland’s Space RCO – formerly Operational Responsive Space – as part of its efforts to reduce the time to launch national security assets into space. Kirtland Air Force Base will continue to be the epicenter for new space and small satellites, potentially creating new economic opportunities for commercial partners in New Mexico.
Udall said, “The new [Space Rapid Capabilities Office] is supposed to play an important role in the Air Force’s attempt to leverage public/private partnerships and reduce the time to launch national security assets into space. While Space RCO is just starting to get off the ground, I believe that it will need funding for new military construction in order to truly scale up and meet the Air Force’s needs.”