F-35s To Be Housed At Truax Field, Sun To Rise Tomorrow

The news today was good, even if not everyone as of yet understands why.

Members of the 115th Fighter Wing said goodbye to the first F-16 ever stationed at Truax Field as the Wisconsin National Guard continues preparing for the next generation of fighters to arrive.

In a post on Facebook, the Guard shared images of the jet, numbered 252, explaining that it first touched down in Madison in April 1993. At that time, Truax Field housed the A-10 Thunderbolt II and was starting its upgrade to the F-16s.

Nearly three decades later, the Guard is upgrading again, this time from fourth-generation aircraft to the fifth-gen F-35 Lighting II. Deputy Adjutant General Gen. David May described the upgrade as “moving from a flip phone to a smartphone” during an August groundbreaking ceremony for the base’s first major F-35 project.

It comes not as news to readers of this blog that I feel a shared responsibility as to the reason for my support of these jets. I expressed it in 2019.

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.

This matter of the F-35 jets is not about noise, as many will try to argue.  A segment of the city and even in Dane County will try to spin their narrative about how their grandchildren will be scared–yes I have heard and read such arguments– but I suspect not since most play very violent video games where a jet taking off is the least dramatic event. To hear some of the dialogue about why people are opposed to the F-35s would lead one to conclude that deafening roars will shake windows from frames, and do everything but rattle the ground so much that caskets will pop out. 

Let us be honest and say at the heart of the matter is a deep disdain about the manufacture and use of the jets.   Madison is very averse to military policy and what has played out over the past couple years regarding these jets has alerted us, again, to that truth.

Here is the bottom line as to why we all need to care about that ginned-up rhetoric.

It is true that some of Madison loves to get caught up in their own self-generated hysteria.  This is what happens all too often and it takes a toll as when truly serious matters arise people are spent and not wishing to expend more energy.  The other half is so dismayed from the crying of ‘wolf’ they tune other messages out.

For the record I often hear the F-16s take off and land from Truax.  I assumed when moving into an urban environment, with an airport and military facility only a few miles away, that there would be sounds from aircraft.  The fact is that the military presence at Truax has proven to be a good neighbor for over 70 years.  Currently the 115 Fighter Wing flies F-16 jets, but those are to be replaced with 20 F-35 jets.

The first one will soon call Truax home.

And so it goes.

Nighttime Smiles In Dane County With Flight Of Lights!

I want to give a most appreciative shout-out to all those who made for a genuinely nice time with Flight of Lights at the Dane County Regional Airport.  James and I drove through about 10 P.M. this evening.   After another day of headlines about the pandemic, it was nice to see lights and sparkle and pace our drive so to linger in front of this or that display.

I know this post may sound perhaps ‘small town’,  But for the past many weeks we all have been mentally and emotionally battered with the headlines of virus, death, and economic despair. So whoever came up with the idea that some splash of color and lights is what we most needed should be applauded–again and again.

For all those who provided the labor to make it all look so nice at nighttime, and those who contributed funding to allow it to be such a spectacular display—THANKS!

It was also super nice to see other cars there, and also being respectful by turning off their headlights.

And for readers of this blog, it is no surprise what brought me the biggest smile……

Credit: Dane County Regional Airport

It Is Official: F-35 Jets Are Coming To Truax Field! Great News For Dane County Economy, Military Preparedness

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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!

Bi-Partisan Win Coming To Truax Field With F-35s

When there is so much political dysfunction, both in our local governments and in the state of Wisconsin, it is heartening to know that Republicans and Democrats have banded together, and in so doing, allowed for their combined interest to win out for the sake of Wisconsin.  And the needs of the nation.

The much-awaited Environmental Impact Study was released by the United States Air Force on Wednesday and it shows Truax Field is a top choice for the F 35‘s to be placed there come 2023.

There have been some of the usual strong outpourings against this aircraft coming into Dane County–as one might expect whenever an issue like this arises.  But there also has been considerable contributions from the business community and political leaders on both sides of the aisle supporting the placement of the F-35’s.  Congressman Mark Pocan and both of our United States Senators, along with scores of ‘rank and file’ men and women from both parties, have joined together over the past months to prove what can be achieved when working as a team.  It feels good to see something positive happen when such unity occurs.

I know it makes little difference to those who are truly set against the F-35s, but this is a win for everyone.  There is no way to easily dismiss the economic upside of having the F-35’s at Truax.  This a no brainer.  As I noted before on this blog.

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. 

There are also the military and tactical reasons to have the F-35’s located at Truax.  For many decades Truax has been a strong part of the Madison community, along with Dane County and the surrounding area.  Many folks are very appreciative of that fact.  It is OK to have old-fashioned nostalgic sentiments about this base.

No one really wishes to be flippant or disregard the impact that the F-35’s might have on some who reside close to the airport.  The report did state an additional 1,019 households or approximately 2,200 people would be in the section of the city where there might be some sound level issues.  But it also stated that when it came to schools the impacts will be similar to impacts from F-16s, the current jets used at Truax Field.  Regarding the environment, the report stated air quality would not be significantly impacted.  If there are issues that need to be remedied with homeowners, those avenues must be taken by the government as promised.  I firmly and honestly believe they can be handled.

What I found most troubling through this process was to witness political operatives and officials in Madison and Dane County leading a mini-revolt to the F 35’s.  I get the fact they were playing to the loudest elements within their communities and electorates.  But what often was missed from the rallies and petition drives were the quieter voices in our neighborhoods.

I have a strong suspicion that the rank-and-file individual both in the city of Madison, Dane County and in the surrounding counties have a very strong regard for Truax and trust in the F-35’s.  They see their necessity both in terms of economic status for the area and also in terms of the military missions that our nation needs to carry out at times.  And yes, the missions they carry out are more important than the occasional inconveniences that might occur for a limited number due to take-offs and landings.

It is now those quieter voices who applaud the bi-partisan moves which have ensured that the F-35s are one step closer to being a reality at Truax Field.  We do not talk about bi-partisanship much anymore other than some promise to achieve it off in the distance.  But we are actually able to claim it as our own in southern Wisconsin with this issue.

And it feels pretty good from this desk where I blog.  (And yes, I hear the current F-16s come and go.)  I sincerely trust you feel the same.

Madison Never Even Knew F-35 Jets Flew Into Truax Field

The sun still comes up in Madison, high school sports still are being played, and folks are starting their early planning for the upcoming holiday season.  All that is just proof that the sky did not fall, pigs did not fly, and the earth did not spin backwards due to F-35 jets making arrivals and departures at Truax Field. 

According to a spokesperson with the Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, there has already been an F-35 fighter jet presence in Madison.

Erik Greenfield said Thursday afternoon that the aircraft made at least three unscheduled arrivals and departures to and from Truax Field this summer, between late July and mid-August.

The dates and times were as follows:

  • July 28, 2019: 1 F-35 departed at 4:58 p.m.
  • August 13, 2019: 2 F-35s arrived at 6:08 p.m.
  • August 13, 2019: 1 F-35 arrived at 8:30 p.m.
  • August 14, 2019: 1 F-35 departed at 10:13 a.m.
  • August 14, 2019: 2 F-35s departed at 12:20 p.m.

So much for the request to have the jets fly in and out of Truax so to ascertain if they will create an “an all-body experience”, as one critic phrased it in the news story.  The jets have been here, but the vast majority of the public needed to be told of their trips in and out of Truax.  If the F-35 jets were as loud and rude as vocal opponents claimed would not their acute sensitivities have noticed them?  Instead, the opponents were likely walking with earbuds in and listening to loud music, mowing grass with a loud engine, or racing their car engine on the beltline.

The critics to the F-35 jets are far more wishing to make a statement about the Defense Department and national military than anything to do with noise.  Now we have more proof that is so with the news F-35 jets have already been to Truax and no one recognized it at the time.

And so it goes.

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Do F-35 Jets Cause Flu-Like Symptoms?

What happens when overly dramatic opponents of the F-35 jets, slated to be based at Truax Field, prattle endlessly about the ‘horrors’ that will befall all in Madison who even hear a hint of engine noise?  Well, today I read in a public forum where one person, obviously overcome with too much negative input from the loudest ones in our city, came to her own point of view.

So I was at UW Union Corners yesterday for severe exhaustion and breathing problems blood pressure high…they can’t figure it out… The place was packed and the doctor apologized to me and said we have just been having some really weird ailments lately we can’t figure it out with kids and adults ……I’m just curious if these kids and adults live around the area where all these new planes have been flying.

The title of her posting was F-35 and Health.  Wow–where to start.  Mabe with two words.

Facts matter.

There are no “new” jets flying at Truax. The F-16 jets that have been there for many years are the same ones flying today.  F-35 jets are not to arrive for a couple of years.

With the use of heightened rhetoric from those opposed to the jets arriving, it has allowed otherwise annual coughs and sneezes at this time of year to be ‘linked’ to jets that are nowhere near Madison.

We have the luxury of living in Madison but look no further than the front page of any newspaper to see the Kurds who well understand how the F-35 jets could make a measurable difference.  If we had a president who understood allies and international policy.

We have a responsibility as a world power, and if the least we do is have an airbase nearby, that seems like a fair price to pay.  After all, most of us have no family members serving in the military.  So doing our part with a base close by is not asking too much. We just take too much for granted, when many in the world have their lives at risk.

As to the sneezing and coughing I take Aller-Fex, when needed, which is a 24-hour non-drowsy tablet sold over-the-counter.  I can also state I have stood outside while an F-16 flew overhead and survived.  And it made me smile.  The shouters should give it try.

Maybe we will hear next that the military jets cause dyscalculia.  At least it would be more interesting than the common cold.

And so it goes.

No ‘Test Run’ For F-35 Jet In Madison, No Need To Coddle Residents

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It was never going to happen.

That was a fact, given the first words from the Air Force many weeks back when requested for an F-35 jet to land and take off from Truax Field in Madison.  Still, there were those politicians who played to the public while knowing what the outcome would be.

I grasp the ‘need’ for elected officials to demonstrate they hear constituents’ concerns about a host of public issues.  But I  also come from a background where being candid and mature with voters shows a deeper level of respect for the ones who cast a ballot ‘back home’.

Congressman Mark Pocan has stated his support for the proposed idea of F-35 jets being stationed at Truax.  Just this week he underscored in a town hall meeting the importance of the jets for Truax.  He well knows the economic might of these jets, and all the residual impact on the region.  But Pocan still went through the motions of making a public request for the Air Force to fly in one of the new tech-heavy jets.

This week, after the public comment period was lengthened by 30 days, the Air Force alerted Pocan his request was denied.  It came as no shock to his office, nor to the congressman.  I am sure, however, there are many in the area that fumed and stamped feet upon hearing the news.

Pocan should have just been upfront and told his constituents that there was no reason to ask for a demonstration so to compare with the F-16 jets at the airfield.  Being candid with voters might seem like political jeopardy to some, but it also might mean voters are treated like adults who can handle the lay of the land.  Whatever the contours might look like.

Pocan is most correct to have stood by the placement of the F-35 jets in Madison, just like every other elected official from both parties.  I only wish he would have allowed his constituents to not feel like they are being coddled in the process.

F-35 Opponents Can’t Win On Arguments, Want Change In The Process

I am known as a process democrat.  Notice the lack of capitalization.

I believe that the government must operate with stated procedures so that win or lose, all will know at the end of the process, fairness was the benchmark as everyone put forth their ideas and perspectives.  One of the foundations of this blog, along with stressing the importance of freedom of the press, the need for gun control, and the power of books is the essential requirement for a process in governing.

I have written in the past years about my time in the state assembly.  Upon not having a fiscal note for a bill being considered for a hearing in my boss’s legislative committee, and getting pressure from our side of the aisle to proceed quickly, I urged my boss to hold firm and demand the process be adhered to.  State Representative Lary Swoboda was known to fold too fast on too many issues but when presented with solid irrefutable points about the process of government he could be won over.  The bill was only scheduled after the fiscal note was attached.  I was able to make such moves on several occasions, and though they may seem small, I know it mattered.  Because the process of governing matters.

Which brings me to Democratic State Representative Chris Taylor, who I very much respect and support each election cycle when her name is on the ballot.  I know she has the breadth of experience and skill-set to make a difference in the statehouse.  I was applauding her a week ago as a small neighborhood parade rounded the corner where my house sits.

But it is due to my feelings for her that I was taken aback at the way she spoke about the process for feedback regarding the F-35 jets proposed for Truax Field.  Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal had a front-page above-the-fold story that sums up what everyone should already be aware of, and that is the jets are almost certainly to arrive at Truax.  The Defense Department does deep studies before making a choice, and once made they are not known for shifting into reverse.  So it set me back a bit to read of the view from Taylor about now changing the process which governs this decision.

State Rep. Chris Taylor, who represents neighborhoods near the airport and has emerged as a leading voice of the opposition, said there are too many unknowns for the Air Force to move ahead with plans to base the new jets in the state’s capital city.

Taylor, who would like to see the Air Force allow more time to study the impact, said she hopes the public comment process is more than a formality. She thinks the community should have a say in whether the jets come here, and if they do how to mitigate the environmental impacts.

No, the public comment and study time of the process can not be elongated because the issue is not moving in the desired direction of one side or the other.

One of the reasons I have such positive regard for Taylor is that I view her as more than a partisan politician with whom I usually agree.  I view her being an intelligent and talented woman which transcends the issue of the day.  But when I read of her desire to bend the rules in order to secure an outcome that she finds more desirable it makes me aware, again, of how hard we all must strive to demand the process of governing be maintained.

Even the best and most serious will abuse the process if given an opportunity.

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