The Department of the Air Force has officially selected Truax Field as a location for the Air National Guard F-35A jets. I supported this move from the start due to the role that our nation plays in the world. It is a role that we must not shrink back from, or deny. As an internationalist, I feel our duty to work in concert with our allies, and in a team fashion through alliances, can not be tossed aside. All this is one reason I have enormous differences with the current occupant of the White House.
This decision concerning the placement of F-35 jets at Truax was a needlessly contentious issue, one that provoked more angst than needed. The outrage was ginned up by the regular loud local voices who seem to dominate too much ‘bandwidth’ when it comes to issues of the day.
I never for one moment thought this matter had anything to do with noise. Many tried to spin their narratives about how their grandchildren will be scared, school classrooms disrupted, and even how sicknesses would result from these jets. Those arguments were easy to refute. As an example, since most of those kids–I suspect–play very violent video games where a jet taking off is the least dramatic event—then we can conclude at the heart of the disagreement over this matter is the disdain about the manufacture and use of the jets. Many in Madison are very averse to military policy, and the F-35 jets were just a tool for them to use to further the narrative.
But it was the more calm voices who come to mind as I talked again and again with local people in my community about the rational reasons for supporting these jets in Madison.
Earlier this year I had a nice conversation with a young man working for a local tech company. He lives in my neighborhood, is friendly and conversant, and given that the Madison isthmus bubbles with politics, we were soon covering all the issues. One of the topics we landed upon was the appropriateness of F-35’s flying in and out of Truax.
He was definitely opposed to the idea of military aircraft having a continuing presence in Madison. Since he had grown up in another state I mentioned Truax, for many decades, has been a site for military preparedness. He was a bit caught off-guard by that fact, replying that Truax sure did not feel like an active military facility.
And therein lies one of the truths as Madison and Dane County moves forward in our conversations about the F-35 jets. The military presence at Truax has proven to be a good neighbor for over 70 years.
I have a firm conviction that international policy should be aggressive in terms of moral authority. That is another reason I support these jets, the pilots and crews, and the exercises they do for preparedness.
We take a whole lot for granted living in this great city and dynamic county. When talking to others about the F-35 issue I ask them to consider the view from a bombed-out town in Syria. I very much sided with those in Washington who called for a no-fly zone in that country. That never happened, but had such a policy been put forth it would have been the type of training at Truax which would have aided those frightened and bloody children we saw night after night on the evening news.
We must take our responsibilities as citizens most seriously. From voting, serving on a jury, or paying taxes it is our duty to step up and serve in a variety of ways. That also applies to where the military trains, such as at Truax. I do not know any person on a first name basis who is actively serving in our military. So the least I can do is support the men and women who have accepted that role. If I am advocating policies, such as no-fly zones in Syria, I then should also accept the placement of training for such missions near to where I reside. I am not one who suggests the F-35 be relegated to places like North or South Dakota.
Walking the talk matters.
It is always a good day when reason and rational thinking prevails. I am pleased that Truax Field remains a proud and dynamic part of Madison, Dane County, and our state. I am pleased that the entire congressional delegation did their work for the best interests of the economy which is pumped up mightly with these jets and employees.
I am never sure if the average person in Madison fully appreciates the amount of money that rolls into the local economy due to Truax. This unit employs 1,200 men and women. Nearly 500 of them are full-time employees, while 700 are traditional guardsmen. The end result is a payroll of $62 million being pumped annually into our housing, auto, and so many other brick-and-mortar businesses. Those who calculate such numbers have placed the economic impact into this region at $100 million. Obviously, no elected official is going to spit on that powerhouse to our economy.
I am also proud of all those in this city who took their place in standing up for this policy.
A good day, indeed.
Oh, heck, it is a great day!