Gov. Butch Otter strongly supports Mountain Home Air Force Base. Let no one mistake that.
But last week, Otter put out a statement that riled some of our local leaders, although we're certain that wasn't intentional.
Otter indicated that the airbase was in jeopardy, as well as the Gowen Field Air National Guard facility. Mayor Tom Rist thought a statement like that could slow down the economic recovery of the community, if people feel the base might go away. Rist is confident, and we agree, that the base is reasonably secure.
The Idaho Air Guard's current base at Gowen Field is definitely in jeopardy, however. Unless Congress does something really stupid -- and we won't put it past its members not to do that -- the A-10 airframe is doomed. That means the Idaho Air Guard will be moving its operations to Mountain Home AFB.
And the Air Force is looking at the base for new missions, not just the Afghan air force training mission outlined on page one of this issue. DoD also is planning on refurbishing the runway. That kinds of interest is usually not afforded a base the Pentagon is looking to close.
Which doesn't mean we don't have to be vigilant. We are convinced another BRAC is just over the horizon, and every base in the country has excess capacity right now. So the annual trek of community leaders next month to Langley and D.C. carries special weight.
But few bases have the community support this base has. And the state has put its money where it's mouth is by passing Gov. Otter's request for funds to acquire water rights that the base will need in the future. We have the flying weather and the training ranges this community fought so hard to see approved are excellent. We're confident in the base and the efforts of the Air Force to find new missions.
So, if anyone is looking to relocate a business in Elmore County, there's a future here.
-- Kelly Everitt