WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today questioned U.S. Army leaders on the president's proposed budget and spoke to the global importance of Fort Huachuca, the largest employer in Cochise County and in Southern Arizona.
Barber, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, today directed questions about the fort's future missions to John McHugh, secretary of the Army, and Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Army chief of staff.
Both appeared before the committee to discuss the Army's budget plans which calls for a reduction in the number of active-duty soldiers from 522,000 today to between 450,000 and 440,000.
In a question to McHugh, Barber asked about the future of the 300-acre Electronic Proving Ground at Fort Huachuca, which Barber noted "has capabilities and assets that simply can't be matched anywhere in the country." Barber previously has drawn the Army's attention to the fort's clean electromagnetic spectrum, making it an ideal place to test electronic equipment.
On March 4, Barber joined Senators McCain and Flake to send a letter to McHugh to once again demand answers about rumors that the Army Test Evaluation Command is considering consolidating testing capabilities across the nation - a possibility that could undercut a main mission of the fort.
In the hearing, Barber took the opportunity to follow-up, saying, "This is a critical issue for my district and our national security. Mr. Secretary, when can we expect a response?"
Video of the exchange with McHugh can be seen by clicking on the image below:
Barber also questioned Odierno about the personnel who carry out electronic testing at Fort Huachuca and whether the Army could afford to lose their knowledge and expertise, saying "Any reduction to personnel at Fort Huachuca will put these missions at risk," Barber told Odierno.
Barber has been an aggressive protector of Fort Huachuca since he came to Congress. Last year, he brought Undersecretary of the Army Dr. Joseph W. Westphal to Southern Arizona for a two-day tour of Fort Huachuca and defense contractors.
In addition to hearing from members of the military at the fort, Barber and Westphal met with the Fort Huachuca 50, an organization dedicated to protecting and supporting the mission and the personnel of the fort.
Fort Huachuca is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center and the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command. The fort is also the headquarters of Army Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS), the Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) and the Electronic Proving Ground (EPG). Libby Army Airfield is located on post and shares the runway with Sierra Vista Municipal Airport.
Today was the second time in less than two weeks that Barber has strongly pushed back on Pentagon budget proposals that could harm Southern Arizona military installations.
Earlier this month, Barber demanded that top Air Force officials explain how they will protect ground troops without the A-10, which they have proposed retiring.
"The path we are on is a very grave problem and a danger to our troops and our security," Barber said at that time. "What's the plan when there's no other airframe that can perform these capabilities? I'm going to keep pushing the Air Force and fighting for the A-10."
NEWS RELEASE Tuesday, March 25, 2014 CONTACT Mark Kimble Communications Directormark.firstname.lastname@example.org (520) 881-3588 or (520) 904-5876
This document was issued by Ron Barber and was initially posted at barber.house.gov. It was distributed, unedited and unaltered, by noodls on 2014-03-26 00:17:59. The original document issuer is solely responsible for the accuracy of the information contained therein.