Talking Combat Readiness with the Arizona Regional EDF
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Posted by: Sara Wheatcroft
The Arizona Regional EDF hosted a panel of military advisors from around the state to discuss military and defense issues that our state. The panel met at the Sierra Vista Police Department training room to share the importance of military installations to our economy. The panel was introduced and welcomed by Mayor Rick Mueller. Mueller highlighted the importance of the military to our economy, saying that “Combat Readiness” is the 5th C of Arizona. The defense industry has a 10.2-Billion-dollar economic impact on our state and provides approximately 96K jobs.
Dr. Joseph Cuffari, military policy advisor to Governor Ducey gave an overview of the 2017 legislative session. Arizona’s legislature has been in session for over 100 days now. In 2016, they met for 117 days. In 2016, several pieces of legislation were passed that support military, including HB 2217 which allows for licensing reciprocity for military service members, and HB 1267 that gives college credit for time served in the armed forces. Cuffari spoke to the uniqueness of Arizona and its military installations. Cochise County is 3rd in the state for defense spending. Cuffari said that what we do at Ft. Huachuca is not replicated anywhere in the US. The Department of Defense uses this area for flight training because of the invaluable protected air space.
Kevin Peterson, President of the Huachuca 50 spoke on Fort Huachuca’s unique location. and its value not only to our community but to the nation. The topography, our protected air space, and test range set the Fort apart from other Army bases in the US. Peterson spoke about the priorities for the Huachuca 50 and what lies ahead for the group. The Fort has a 3.1-Billion-dollar impact on our local economy and the Huachuca 50 is dedicated to promoting the economic welfare of the Sierra Vista area by supporting the continuing development of Fort Huachuca.
Craig Kaufman from the Davis Monthan 50 spoke about the unique issues the air force base has with the city of Tucson. Davis Monthan AFB has a 1.6-Billion-dollar economic impact on the city of Tucson and surrounding area and is one of the city’s top 3 employers. The base provides jobs for 7000 military and 3000 civilian employees. The DM 50 is an advocate at the local and federal level about the importance of the base to the community. The DM 50 also works in local education and outreach, to make sure the city of Tucson understands the economic value that the Base has to the city.
Lucian Niemeyer, military consultant for Huachuca 50 spoke of what we can expect in the next few years from the Department of Defense. Niemeyer said that in Washington, the Department of Defense sees Arizona as of high military value to the nation. Arizona is unparalleled and unprecedented in its support of its military bases, more so than any other state. Looking to the future, he said that we can expect to see a BRAC (Base Re-Alignment Closure), and although a BRAC can be a threat to military communities such as ours, Lucian said that it can also be seen as a chance to compete and grow rather than shrink.
Adam Hawkins, Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation’s government affairs contractor provided an update to the group from the state Capitol. His presentation focused largely on the high number of freshmen legislators and the efforts being taken to educate them on the issues that are important to our region.
Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation is proud to have formed the Military Communities Panel. This panel discussion was the fourth time the group has come together to present on the impact of military communities. “We look forward to the opportunity to speak in other communities as we have today” said Mignonne Hollis of AREDF. “The partnership highlights the value of defense spending in the state.” In 2015, 3.4% of the state’s GDP was from military contracts.