Opinion

Task force wise to be prepared | Editorial

Oak Harbor’s Save Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Task Force has doggedly pursued a high profile in Washington, D.C., ever since the base was temporarily placed on the base closure list back in 1991.

Task force members recently returned from their latest trip to the other Washington, and reported back to the community earlier this month. It was inspiring to see former Mayor Al Koetje at the task force helm. Mayor Scott Dudley and several city council members stated that the reception was warm and they were able to meet with influential Pentagon brass, all at the “admiral level,” as Councilman Jim Campbell said.

Whidbey Island Naval Air Station’s future certainly looks secure at this point, even if Congress decides to bring back to life the BRAC (Base Realignment And Closure) process. Whidbey is home to the new EA-18G Growler electronic warfare airplanes and is looking forward to the promised changeover from the venerable P-3 Orions to the new P-8A Poseidon anti-submarine patrol aircraft in a few years. Also, the nation’s new military focus on Asia adds to Whidbey’s importance for geographic reasons.

But as Task Force members well know, the future is cloudy at best. Unless Congress acts, major cuts in the military budget will take place next year. It’s hard to believe Congress will let that happen, but it’s shown the ability to do nothing in the face of the budget crisis and may well do the same if faced with a crisis in the military budget. On another front, the worst of the financial crisis may not be over. There are plenty of budgetary doomsayers predicting the worst is yet to come, and Great Britain just fell into a double-dip recession. If more tax revenue dries up and borrowing costs go up, the U.S. may have no choice but to make drastic cuts in the military budget.

The nation needs what Whidbey Island Naval Air Station has to offer, but it has to be aware of what we have out here in the Northwest corner of the country. This may be the year when the hard work of the Save NAS Whidbey Task Force over many years really pays off. Thanks to the task force, we’re prepared to weather the storm far better than most other military communities.

 

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