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Monday, October 20, 2014

We'd welcome Saudi unit

Posted Wednesday, December 8, 2010, at 8:50 AM

The possibility of getting another foreign-nation training squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base is something this community should embrace.

We're not going to get an F-35 squadron, even though shortly after the first of the year some hearings will be held locally as part of the basing process, but they'll just be a formality to meet the law. The first of those planes are going elsewhere. More importantly, the F-35 program is now four years behind schedule and could slip even further, so even if we were to suddenly see a change in the decision and get them, it would be a long time before we ever saw one on the runways here. In addition, there's a good chance the next Congress will cut -- significantly -- the number of aircraft that will be purchased.

Meanwhile, we keep losing squadrons on base. The F-15Cs disappeared this fall, leaving the base with only two U.S. Air Force flying squadrons, plus the Republic of Singapore training squadron. That's down significantly from the heady days of the composite wing that was stationed on the base in the late 1990s.

The base is horribly underutilized, and the lack of personnel there has had a significant impact on the local economy, which remains heavily dependent upon what goes on at the airbase.

So another squadron would be a good thing, and the $30 million to $50 million in anticipated construction that would go along with it would be a major boost to the local economy and help drive the unemployment rate here downward from its current near-record highs. We could really use the jobs that would come with the squadron. It wouldn't hurt, either, that the Saudi government is known for its generosity and largesse in areas where it is made to feel welcome.

We believe the majority of people in this area would welcome the Saudi training squadron. There's a lot of people around here who've spent time in the Mideast, so the cultural learning curve wouldn't be that great.

Of course, some small-minded people will see a squadron of Muslims here as a threat. They shouldn't. Over the years, we've constantly stressed the distinction between a religion and terrorists (or anyone else) who misuse their religion as a front for their hate. Most Muslims are good, kind people. They believe in the same God of Abraham to which Christians and Jews pray, and all three religions enjoy the same historical religious foundation. Any good historian could easily argue that the differences and animosities between those groups have been ultimately the result of power politics than anything else.

The Saudi government is, even by the standards of the Mideast, a religiously conservative group. It guards two of the three holiest sites in the Islamic world -- Mecca and Medina -- and takes those responsibilities seriously.

It also stands high on al-Queda's target list as a state to be attacked and toppled, which is one of the reasons the Saudis have vigorously worked to remove the terrorists' presence in their country and shared vital intelligence with the United States (the recent "copier bombs" being a good example).

The royal family's leadership is almost all western educated, and there are some very smart, competent people in that group. They enjoy the perks that come with being a working monarchy, but there also is no question they work hard to better the lives of their citizens. If you look at all the failed states, brutal dictatorships and corrupt "democracies" around the planet, the Saudis come off as clearly one of the good guys in the world.

Their government and culture are simply different from what most Americans are used to in their own backyard, but one of Mountain Home's strengths is how cosmopolitan we are. The majority of people here are smart and have enough world experience to know the rest of the world usually does things differently than we do. Different doesn't necessarily mean wrong. It just means different.

We embraced and readily assimilated the Republic of Singapore squadron here, with its Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims. It's been seamless. That's why we believe the Saudi squadron also would find an equally warm welcome here.

And in the long run, it would help cement an important strategic partnership with the United States, which also would greatly improve our own national security. They will learn from us and take those lessons home with them, and we will learn from them. That level of understanding will pay enormous dividends down the road for both nations.

We hope that today, or at least within the next week, the United States and the government of Saudi Arabia sign off on a basing agreement that would add another squadron at Mountain Home AFB. We think this is a perfect place to do it.

It is something that all of us can, and should, welcome with open arms.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

honestly im jumping ship as soon as possiable, we didnt get the F-35 and if we get the saudi troop well then great, like i hear every couple of years i hear yet again that this base could soon be shut down, i dont know for sure its just another rumor.

-- Posted by shockwave on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 10:12 AM

Kelly, there are so many faults in this article that it's difficult to know where to begin. Of course, I'm one of those "small-minded people" people that you refer to. The only problem is that I've been to the Middle East a dozen times, to include spending a year training some of the same crews that will wind up coming here if we get the F-15SA squadron. How much firsthand knowledge do you have of the region and its people? After all those experiences I can tell you that there is no amount of money that would make having the Saudi squadron here, or anywhere else in the US for that matter, "worth it".

-- Posted by Northside on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 10:33 AM

IT is amazing to me that a person can make a very negative statment about a group of people without at least some form of justification and or explanation.IM SURE YOU HAVE YOUR REASON TO SAY WHAT YOU SAID HOWEVER WOULD YOU LIKE TO LET US IN ON YOUR SECRET OR IS IT SMALL MINDED AS YOU STATED??????????????

-- Posted by lamont on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 4:24 PM

Did they already vote on the Dream Act? If so what was the out come? If not when is this suppose to take place?

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 5:02 PM

"The Saudi government is,even by the standards of the Mid-east, a religiously conservative group."

Fact: It is unlawful to build a church anywhere in Saudi Arabia.

Can you imagine the United States gov't negotiating with the Vatican over permission to construct a Christian house of worship within its territory? I can't. However, this diplomatic maneuver has been playing out for years with the Saudis.

It is not "small minded" to acknowledge that, officially, the Saudi government does not even acquiesce to non-Islam religious tolerance. The leopard can't change its spots.

-- Posted by junkyard dog on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 5:21 PM

Is the Department of Homeland Security small minded? Is the TSA small minded? These agencies make their living being skeptical and protective, not trusting anyone. Some of the citizens of this and other cities of the United States voice their concerns over the safety of their families and you call them small minded? You sir, need to open your eyes to the world we live in. Unfortunately, we all need to be concerned, this is not the country we used to feel safe and secure in.

The possibility of a foreign government throwing money our way should not become reason to let down our guard. Not everything is about the almighty dollar. What price does our feeling of security have?

-- Posted by jtrotter on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 5:31 PM

Read the information about the Saudie govt available through WikiLeaks. Most of you Pro Saudie might change your mind.

-- Posted by bob8492 on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 5:48 PM

Lamont, where to start? A dozen trips and probably a total of three to four years living/working in various countries in the Middle East. The stories would take days. I'll go through some of my strongest reasons for objecting to this, but first lets address a baseline concept that folks need to understand. The biggest problem most folks have with understanding folks from Saudi is that they think the Western standard of what I'll call the "reasonable person" concept applies to all peoples/cultures. To paraphrase, we like to think that if we provide someone with enough reasoning and logic they will understand and behave to an accepted standard. This just doesn't work in Saudi. Many of the folks I worked with were part of the Saudi elite, some fairly high up in the ranks of Saudi royalty, and many of them got much of their higher education (i.e. prep schools and college) in the West, along with another year or two of flight training in the West. We would think that they would take the best of the things they learned and apply them after they returned home. That really doesn't happen. Baseline beliefs and actions seemed to have little variations across the various stratas of royalty or education.

They have little respect for human life, even the lives of their own families. An example, despite plenty of fancy new SUVs and luxury cars (and that Western education) none of them used either seat belts for themselves or child seats for their kids. It was a not very funny reference amongst the Westerners in Saudi that children riding in vehicles (usually standing on the seats, running around the back of the SUV, or laying across the platform in the rear window) were referred to as "projectiles", since that is what they became in any accident. Their most common saying (read "reasoning") when we asked about this was that "Allah will provide" (that I won't get into a wreck). If they have no respect for the lives of their own families, do you think they'll have much respect for the lives of yours?

Speaking of driving, I came upon many vehicle accidents during my time there. The images remain very vivid in my mind. I still can't conceive to this day how many of those accidents happened (probably because I'm applying the reasonable person concept). Considering that conditions were generally hot and dry there one can only imagine what will happen when they get into the snow and black ice here (though I'm sure Allah will provide..). Let's just hope that when Allah doesn't provide we're not the ones in their path.

There is a drug problem in Saudi. Yes, difficult to believe when the penalty for drug use can be death. Then again, I can't think of another reason for the high number of anti-drug billboards scattered around town and their military base. Especially frightening was the thought that it was such a problem in their military. Do we want that problem imported here?

Yes, they drink alcohol. It's a not very well kept secret in Saudi (MSNBC just had an article on it yesterday). How do you think that's going to work out when they are away from the repressive environment of their home country? My fear is overcompensation. I'm sure many folks can back me up on this one as they've seen Muslims drinking in various locations outside of their home country. The standard response seems to be "Allah cannot see across the water" (i.e. the Atlantic, Pacific, or even that small bit of water that separates Saudi from Bahrain).

There will be increased crime, some of it will be of a sexual nature. See previous on being away from their oppressive home country and overcompensation.

And finally, let's take a look at their beliefs. Have you read the Koran? I have, since I wanted to get a better feeling for the people that I was working with. It is an enlightening though oftentimes confusing and contradicting book. For all the talk we hear about Islam being a religion of peace, and that they have much in common with other "people of the book" (i.e. Catholics and Jews), there is also much said that isn't all happiness and light. A few examples:

5.51 Believers, take neither Jews nor Catholics for your friends

in various portions of the Koran both Catholics and Jews are called unbelievers, nonbelievers, and even idolaters.

4.89 in reference to disbelievers: ...seize them and put them to their death wherever you find them.

3.73 Believe in none but those that follow your own religion.

2.191 ref idolators: slay them wherever you find them

There are many dozen more examples, but I think you get the idea (I'm applying the reasonable person concept here). Are these the types of views we are willing to welcome?

As a parting note, one final story. I was not in Saudi when 9/11 happened, though I do have some friends that were. They were at the squadron with many of those same elite and well-educated Saudis mentioned earlier, yet they did not feel safe. You have to understand that this particular military installation was in one of the most conservative regions of Saudi, and that a large number of the hijackers came from a town just thirty miles away. My friends received suspicion and hostility from people they had been working with for months. They did not feel safe amongst the people that knew them and that they knew better than anyone else in the country. How do you think we will fare?

-- Posted by Northside on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 7:19 PM

I SAID NOTHING OF CHANGING ANYTHING.....I ASKED A QUESTION....WAS THE REASON SMALL MINDED? NORTHSIDE ANSWERED THE QUESTION...THANKYOU...I DIDNT FIND HIS ANSWER SMALL MINDED I WANTED TO KNOW HIS REASONS.NOW ON ONE HAND I HEAR OUR COUNTRY OUR RULES OK DOES that apply to the saudies there country there rules ok so there not into christians.they never said they would be so they dont have anything to live up to as far as that is concerned>If we dont like the way they live we should not support them.I believe you when you say the educated wont chang,we can take pages from our own society and see the same.I did not advocate changing any rules ,zook your getting paranoid.There religion says what it says and they are free to believe what they want,the implementation of those beiefs here must be within our laws without exception no question so i dont see the problem,innocent till proven guilty,and i would insist that there be NO diplomatic immunity.soldiers are soldiers and we all do the drinking get crazy thging within moderation,again our house our rules

-- Posted by lamont on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 9:06 PM

Excellent blog post, Mountain Home. I couldn't agree more with the sentiment and viewpoint.

It's my opinion that unfortunately, Mountain Home will not simultaneously be training new build USAF F-15E++ air crews too :(

-- Posted by geokoh on Wed, Dec 8, 2010, at 10:40 PM

AGAIN YOUR MAKING ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT THE PEOPLE YOU ARE ADDRESSING.........I dont think he was set up i think good intell......the problem on the issue of civilian versus tribunal.....tribunal were set up for clear cut soldiers in uniform ,on the battelfield,thats were the problem is. RADICAL ISLAM CONSIDERS THE ENTIRE WESTERN WORLD THE BATTFIELD.So we either have the law changed or this delemia will continue. IN THE MEAN TIME IF CIVILIAN COURTS WILL SATISFy OUR NEED TO INCARCERATE THESE PEOPLE LETS USE IT.MONEY BE DANGED.the conviction history in the civil courts for terrorist is about 99.9 i say that will work, they have only had a 50-50 in the tribunals.I THINK THAT IS DUE TO EVIDENTARY RESTRICTIONS IN THE TRIBUNAL SYSTEN. WE NEED TO REMEMBER THE TRIBUNALS CAME INTO THER OWN AFTER WW2 AND THE GERMANS .THEY ARE BASICALY KANGAROO COURTS. NOW when we quote a religious book we need to remember that ,that book just like the BIBLE HAS VERSIONS WHICH ARE SUBJECT TO INDIVIDUAL INTERPRETATIONS ,THE BIBLE AND ITS TEACHINGS ARE NOT PERFECT AND NEITHER IS THE KORAN.I FOR ONE WILL NOT CRITERCIZE SOMEONES RELIGION,WHO AM I TO JUDGE,CHRISTIANS ARE NOT PERFECT NO MATTER WERE YOU FIND THEM. I WILL NOT JUDGE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE BASED ON THE ACTIONS OF A FEW.....THATS WHAT STARTS WARS ...FROM BOTH SIDES. REMEMBER THAT MILLIONS HAVE DIED IN THE NAME OF CHRISTIANITY,SOME RIGHT HERE IN AMERICA WE ALL HAVE OUR CROSSES TO BEAR

-- Posted by lamont on Thu, Dec 9, 2010, at 9:32 AM

Sorry folks, and it appears that I am certainly in the small majority from those who have expressed comments in this forum, but I fully support Mountain Home AFB supporting an additional training unit from another country. The relationship with the Singh's has been nothing short of exceptional and with their presence here, it has created some very good jobs for members of our community. I would hope for the same success with the Saudi's. In this economy we have to be willing to think outside the box, and I am willing to give it a try. I hope the community is as well.

Best wishes,

-- Posted by Albert Clement on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 11:53 AM

I agree and i realize the sensitivty of some people.IF FOR NO OTHER REASON WE AS A PEOPLES GET TO KNOW PEOPLE FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE,GOOD FOR US GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN AND COMMUNITY. the jobs that would be created is a side benifit that would go a long way right now.The other side of that is anytime someone is sent to a different country they send only there BEST and i would assume the SAUDIES would do the same.I DONT KNOW WERE THIS PAINT THEM ALL WITH THE SAME BRUSH COMES FROM. WE DONT LIKE IT WHEN ITS DONE TO US,BUT WE SURE THROW IT AROUND.VIEW IT AS A LEARNING OPPERTUNITY.OUR GREATNESS IS OUR DIVERSITY AND WITH IT COMES GREAT KNOWLEDGE

-- Posted by lamont on Fri, Dec 10, 2010, at 1:36 PM

The United States is going to train, on American soil, using fully armed advanced fighter aircraft, military personnel of a foreign government so that government can defend the following:

Article 1

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sovereign Arab Islamic state with Islam as its religion; God's Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet, God's prayers and peace be upon him, are its constitution, Arabic is its language and Riyadh is its capital.

The Authorities of the State

Islam as cornerstone of governance

Article 45 affirm that religious rulings must be in accordance with the " Holy Qur'an and the Prophet's Sunnah." To this end, a panel of Islamic clergy and research group shall be established.

According to Article 55, the king has to "rule according to the rulings of Islam and shall supervise the application of Shari'ah." Article 56 states that the king is the prime minister as well. Article 57 makes it clear that the king's cabinet and other lower-ranking officials must follow Islam. Those who deviate from this can be dismissed or punished.

Today apostasy is illegal in most Muslim countries, and subject in some to the death penalty. Executions for apostasy are rare, but allowed in many Muslim countries such as Iran and Saudi Arabia. Apostasy is legal in secular Muslim countries such as Turkey

Saudi Arabia

"An Apostate will be suppressed three days in prison in order that he may repent ..... otherwise, he should be killed, because he has changed his true religion, therefore, there is no use from his living, regardless of being a man or a woman, as Mohammed said: "Whoever changes his religion, kill him", narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=

http://www.walrusmagazine.com/articles/2...

-- Posted by You've Got To Be Kidding on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 12:08 PM

Albert Clement says we will derive great economic benefit from supporting and enabling this kind of government:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOIbgd5qc...

I'd rather derive economic benefit from having my daughter be a prostitute.

-- Posted by You've Got To Be Kidding on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 12:58 PM

I guess as a Jew (and openly so) I will probably never be invited to dinner by any of these people. Darn! More missed opportunity to socialize with more people I could care less about who should not even be allowed in this country much less on our military bases to be trained by our soldiers.

Are those of you "for" this really that clueless? Really? Think people-think. Try to see beyond all of the money that they say this will bring in. We had the same promises with AEHI, Marathon and the dairies. We all know how just those 3 things turned out...

Nuff said.

-- Posted by OpinionMissy on Sat, Dec 11, 2010, at 8:03 PM

Yes they would Bazooka and they HAVE. Just look at the reporting done by this paper on AEHI, the WECRD and now this to name just a few things. This is not reporting.

-- Posted by OpinionMissy on Thu, Dec 16, 2010, at 3:30 PM


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