We received word this week that the anticipated loss of KC-10 air tankers at Travis Air Force Base will have no ill effects on the base and the scope of its mission.
That’s the takeaway of Fairfield City Manager Sean Quinn and others based on a meeting with Gen. Paul Selva, commander of Air Mobility Command, at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. Members of the Travis Community Consortium delegation were told a bridge mission would be put in place at Travis until an as-yet-undetermined mission could fill the loss of the base’s 27 KC-10s.
It’s too soon to celebrate because there’s work to be done, but not too soon to breathe a sigh of relief.
That work includes somehow convincing key members of California’s congressional delegation – including senior U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein – of the importance of maintaining a vibrant military mission not only at Travis Air Force Base, but across the state.
We have only to look to Vallejo to see the devastation wrought by the closure of Mare Island Naval Shipyard, shuttered in 1996 as the military sought to cut costs. Once the gem of Solano County due to its proximity to San Francisco, the city filed for bankruptcy in 2008 as the lingering effects of Mare Island’s closure and the Great Recession pushed the city’s finances over the edge.
Nearly three years after emerging from bankruptcy, the city is once again struggling financially, the police force remains a shadow of its former strength and there have been some two dozen homicides in 2013 – four in the past two weeks alone.
Pending loss of the KC-10 at Travis Air Force Base is certainly a local issue, but it’s also a state issue that derives from a national budget issue. As such, Congress holds sway.
California has the largest state delegation in Congress. As federal budgets are cut and military missions are evaluated, our congressional representatives need to speak with one voice to ensure that the Golden State does not bear an undue share of the burden of bringing military spending in line with current financial realities.