City Government

Is Air Guard A Job Mill Or Defense Unit?

A-10A Potential cost-saving plan by the U.S.Department of Defense to move the Idaho Air National Guard from Boise to Mountain Home Air Force Base is drawing flak from politicos.

Mayor Dave Bieter told the Daily Paper the plan was “puzzling”and made no sense.
It makes sense to the GUARDIAN. What doesn’t make sense is to have two military air bases less than 40 miles apart. If the Obama administration can combine the facilities at Mountain Home and segregate high speed military jets from commercial aircraft, so much the better for air safety and efficiency.

Boise Mayor Dave Bieter has pushed to have the skies over Boise filled with noisy jets for several years, spending taxpayer money campaigning in an unsuccessful effort to get the F-35 based at Gowen Field. Now the pentagon is talking about moving the entire mission to Mountain Home and mothballing the A-10 tank killer air-to-ground attack planes.

Between pilots, ground crews, maintenance crews, purchasers, payroll experts and other support staff, the group that operates the fleet accounts for about 1,000 jobs, according to Col. Tim Marsano, Idaho Air National Guard spokesman. The majority of those people are part-time reservists who work one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Only a third are full timers. All this raises the question: Is the Air Guard a “job mill” or for the defense of the nation?

Combat jets aren’t designed to do much more than kill people and destroy objects. Some Army helicopters on the other hand can be used for rescue, fire fighting, and disaster assistance — a logical role for National Guard.

The Idaho Air National Guard worries that moving its operations an hour’s drive from the Treasure Valley will hurt its ability to recruit and retain reservists.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 26, 2014, 11:34 am

    Whether or not you supported the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, the A-10 was very effective at it’s job. But, that being said, public opinion in this country seems to be adamantly opposed to any further wars, so it is time to downsize the military (why are we still occupying Germany, Italy, etc?). The argument is now just about who and which programs get the ax.

    Good jobs in desirable places to live – like Boise, Sun Valley, and McCall can be hard to find. Sometimes you have to sacrifice and live in Mountain Home.

  2. Gene Fadness
    Mar 26, 2014, 11:50 am

    Why the singular focus on the Mayor? What about the Idaho congressional delegation all scrambling to defend both bases and the status quo? This is the same crowd that whines and bellyaches about the growing national debt but will be the first to rush to the microphones whenever a project in their home districts is threatened. The hypocrisy of it all is stunning.

    EDITOR NOTE–Point well taken. Must admit from our perspective, local politico (mayor) is least qualified to opine on national defense. We agree the delegation would be culpable, but for the most part they can’t really complain as long as Mt. Home remains open– which is more likely if it has an increased presence.

  3. Bound to happen. Lucky if we don’t lose both. F-35 too noisy for Boise and Pilot’s don’t want their families in to live in Mountain Home… so they drive daily from Boise.

    Our delegation’s got nothing on the past. They just won’t go to the mat like they used to. We need to call Larry Craig in off the bench to work that special magic he has.

    The good news is all that empty space at Gowen will be great place to play with toy trains and set up call centers.

  4. PS: I think the A-10s will be used in the future as civilian water bombers.

  5. Excellent headline. Only in the last few years has government job loss been justification for continued overspending.

  6. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 26, 2014, 4:17 pm

    I see the Mayor of Mountain Home hasn’t commented yet. Maybe he will challange the Mayor of Boise to a duel.

    EDITOR NOTE–He did welcome the Guard with open arms and no ill will to Boise.

  7. Gene, you are correct but, we can take it even further. Anyone on SSI will whine… anyone who’s gravy train is effected screams. It seems like this is the norm in our society today…. everyone has their hand out and is screaming for big bro (pun intended) to pay them for their votes.

    As far as the guard goes… the whole concept is outdated… air/army all of it. It is ridiculous to have the air guard 50 odd miles from one of the premier fighter wings in the world. Doubling up on logistics and infrastructure makes no sense. Move ops to MHAFB and cut some of the bleeding off of money. As far as hurting recruitment if they have to drive an hour one weekend a month… wa wa… their people must not be very dedicated to the cause if they are worried about that. Buck up weekend warriors and learn what it’s actually like to be in the “real” military.

  8. Grumpy ole guy
    Mar 26, 2014, 7:53 pm

    It is interesting to me how “the Reserves” has changed during the decades of my so-called adulthood. At one time the Reserves were back-up to National and Local disasters and prepared to be pressed into service in the case of National military need. Then they became the source of employment or second job employment. Then they were the means of serving one’s military obligation without going on full active duty. Now that the draft is no longer in use, the Reserve is the source of our standing army for fighting our undeclared wars abroad. Re-locating Reserve unit locations to active duty installations seems to me to make fiscal sense. The military has never been noted for considering personnel convenience in making decisions, doubt that it will in this instance. Mountain Home needs the fiscal boost as much or more than any other community in Idaho, after all. And, Mike Simpson, I would guess, has a lot more pull in Washington, DC that our other Representative, and Mountain Home is in Simpson’s district while Boise is split between the two.

  9. I’ve noticed quite a few local enlisted guard/reserve members who appear physically out of shape and seem to have lots of expendable income. Is the editor interested in publishing pay scales + bonuses etc… mind blowing numbers folks.

    Cutbacks on our military spending will make the world a more dangerous place… and I’m all for that. Our core manufacturing jobs will then move home again.

  10. Wow! A lot of odd comments so far.
    “Two military air bases less than 40 miles apart”. That’s like saying it doesn’t make sense to have two airports for Chicago. 2 airports for DC. 3 for NY? I’m sure there is a list of other airbases within close proximity.

    Different missions, different objectives.

    “segregating high speed military jets from commercial aircraft, so much the better for air safety “- Guardian, do you think the military aircraft at Boise Airport present an air safety hazard?

    “pushed to have the skies over Boise filled with noisy jets”-
    FILLED with NOISY jets.

    If one were to only read this post, one might conclude we have Nellis AFB on Broadway.

    “Combat jets aren’t designed to do much more than kill people and destroy objects”
    That’s one way to look at em. But they’re also designed to make NOISE. 😉

  11. Job mill or defense mill?

    The better question, above our paygrade and not a local issue, “isn’t it time the Air Guard gets absorbed into the AF Reserves?”

  12. Easterner… it make perfect sense to say it makes no sense to have 2 separate bases 40 miles apart. Why does Chicago have 2 airports? Why does NY have 3? Dallas 2? I’ll tell you… the amount of air traffic. I will give you this… there are no high speed acft stationed at Gowen.. even if there were typical speed limits around aerodromes “airports” is set at 250kts so high speed isn’t really a factor. I still think there is no reason to have 2 bases this close.

  13. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 27, 2014, 6:50 pm

    Zippo seems to think everyone else is overpaid. What about him?

  14. Rick,
    From time to time, Mtn Home airbase does not have a functioning airstrip- for example, maintenance, aircraft crash, and weather. It’s useful to have a secondary airstrip within a reasonable distance. Granted that is true even if Air Guard were not in Boise. But then you would have AF F15s landing in Boise likely without any AF support for those jets. As you post, “the amount of air traffic”. Mtn Home has one runway. Sure they could share, but having a secondary unit is beneficial.

    Different funding, different missions, risk of Mtn Home closure, and probably mostly, different chain of commands- it does make some sense.
    It also makes some sense to combine them. Certainly pros and cons of each option.

  15. Rod in SE Boise
    Mar 27, 2014, 6:55 pm

    An E-5 (Staff Sgt) with more than 4 years of service makes $2,555.19 per month. That’s for full time, not part time Reserve or Guard duty. That’s about $30.6K per year. Not much.

    EDITOR NOTE– Rod, if you toss in free medical, housing, about 4 weeks “Vacation” and all the other extras like, flight pay, combat, overseas, it probably doubles. Not saying they are overpaid, it just isn’t a bad deal. And don’t forget the early retirement benefits too. I honestly met a Navy E-5 last on a flight from Hawaii last year and he was making right at $60K.

  16. Zippo, the Guardian doesn’t need to publish the pay scales- they are easily available online.

    Guardian, that E-5 is getting more than the typical E-5 if he is assigned to Hawaii due to the costs there. An E-5 in MtnHome is not earning that much. Not everyone gets those “extras”.

    But then again there is the free medical provided by mostly paramedic-level personnel, housing if you like barracks and cockroaches, flight pay if you are smart enough to qualify and don’t mind the NOISE, combat pay to get shot at or meet an IED, overseas pay to live in some hellhole like Bahrain.

    Keep in mind you might work 12 hours a day, 7 days a week for months on end, you get to leave your spouse and kids for 6- 12 months at a time, sleep where people lob rockets into your tent, you generally cant play if you have a previous drug/crime record or really are out of physical condition, you get fired if you get in legal problems, and if you’re real lucky you get to a share a bed with another person while you cruise under the ocean for months at a time smelling your stinky coworkers all the time. That “extra” is called SubPay for about 250/month..

    And once you make the choice to volunteer, you pretty much don’t get to decide whether you work at Gowen or Mtn Home. And that might be why they call it serving your country.
    Yep, you’re right, it’s “not a bad deal”.

  17. Easterner…that’s an awful expensive insurance policy that will get used… maybe once in 5 years…and I’m being generous there. How long were u in the military?

  18. I can remember in 1994 when they had a big round of base closures. Congress tasked a Blue Ribbon Committee to decide which bases would go on the chopping block. They did their work, closed a lot of useless bases for defense and guess what.. we are all still here and we need another round of base closures. I love to hear all the faux conservatives speak about the sacred soil of military bases.

    The first place I would start is with the 900 or so bases Ron Paul talked about not on our soil and target those bases for closure along with all the useless bases on our soil.

  19. Easterner… The points about living conditions, pay, and intelligence are not relevant to this discussion so I am not sure why you are trying to stir up arguments.

    Let’s face it, having the guard at Gowen is at best redundant. There is no need to fund 2 bases so close together when the mission can be accomplished with just one. If you are all so intent on saving Gowen close Mt Home and move the 15’s up here.

  20. Rick, the initial point was the Guard is concerned the distance to commute to MH will affect recruitment and retention.

    Rod says sometimes you have to live in places like MH- to have a job. (even though we are talking about part-time employment and Boise being the alternative).

    Rick, you then said driving 1 hour to MH ought not hurt recruitment- “wa wa” “buck up weekend warriors” . So you and the Guard command disagree.

    Zippo thinks military pay is “mind blowing numbers” and therefore the cost to drive 2 hours must be irrelevant.

    Rod mentions the enlisted pay rate and says its “not much”.

    And then the EDITOR says, “it’s not a bad deal” as if to say Guard members are well paid for what they are expected to do.

    I simply am reminding readers of what some military members are expected to do for their pay and “extras”. And now you want to add to the expectation, driving to MH twice a month to earn their pay.

    So, Rick, it seems pretty _ relevant to the issue and this discussion, since others have already included it in the discussion, including you with “wa wa buck up weekend warriors”.

    No one is “funding 2 bases”. The Guard pays Boise to be there. They would likely be paying the AF to be there. Different funding- different mission- different budgets. If you don’t want to pay for two different units of Air Force/Guard then you are talking about deleting one of those units- that a totally different topic.

    Yet,you say “the mission” can be accomplished with just one base. So what is “the mission” that you are referring to Rick? Cuz, I’m pretty sure the MHAF Base mission is different than the Guard Commander’s mission… but I don’t know since I’m not in their meetings.

    By the reasoning displayed above, we dont’ need a Boise airport at all. WE can all drive to SLC. It is the same mission of just getting on a plane to go somewhere else. ha! I’m sure Delta and United Airlines will think that’s a great solution. Look at all the airline carriers that have left Boise in past years. And the current air travel for Boise business people is so wonderful already.

    And when HP says they don’t need a Boise campus, those employees can just commute to Palo Alto. Heck, they can even carpool in hybrids. I’m sure HP has the “same mission” there in Palo Alto so it makes sense, right? And ALL HP employees get paid really well so they can afford it. 🙂

  21. To say that different missions cannot be accomplished on the same runway strikes me as not a good argument . After all Mt. Home has a golf course within the confines of its airbase and a good PX where many retired military from all over the valley go to load up at reduced prices. I think the commute is a non-factor

  22. Easterner… so everyone in the guard is part time… wow.. not so much. I will say again if driving 40 miles to work once a month (part timers) is a deal breaker they are not that dedicated in the first place and I for one do not want them and, if the full timers are too good to drive that far for 47k plus jobs… I don’t want them either. If you want to know where I got the 47k number look on USA Jobs.
    Now lets get to the blatantly stupid comments…
    1. It is not 2 hours to MHAFB I know I drove it both from the north end in Boise and Kuna for 2 years… for a LOT less than 47K a year.
    2. The editor is right… they get paid very very well for what they do…see USA Jobs.
    3. You are reminding people of what the military members do for their money… not the guard. There are a lot of states where guard members drive a lot more than 40 miles to get there… and I don’t hear them crying.
    4. No one is funding 2 bases… are you serious? Who pays Gowen’s bills… according to you… no one, I won’t comment further.. that statement is too ludicrous.
    5. Yes the mission can be accomplished on one base… there are a lot of dual role bases in the world. Mt Home already has multi missions.. so that argument is mute also.
    6. You are really grasping at straws aren’t you… Ya SLC is only 40 miles away…Lets close BOI and everyone can drive the 40 miles to SLC. HP and Palo Alto… same thing.
    If you are not willing to be logical then there is no use discussing this with you. Come up with logical well thought out points instead of trying to bait arguments and we can talk.

    Are you in the guard?… have you ever been in the military?

  23. Rick, I’ll go slowly here and try to use some logical, well-thought-out points for someone having a tough time with the use of the word moot. 🙂

    +It’s 50 miles each way. Btw MapQuest puts that at 1 hour 2 minutes, EACH WAY, bro. You’re going, you might have to come back. 2 hours drive time for that trip, unless your mother is driving and then it might seem a lot longer. 🙂
    +Usually a weekend drill includes a Saturday and a Sunday.
    +The full-timers would have to do that 2 HOURS every work day not just Sat/Sun and like you say, there are a lot of them.
    +The rest of your 6 points pretty much follow along that same path.

    But I’ll clarify one for you, if I may, and I’ll try to go slowly:
    The Guard gets funding from a separate “checking account” than the Air Force gets their funding. The Guard also gets a little bit of money from the State of Idaho’s “checking account”. Sometimes Congress says, “Dear National Guard Bureau, Your budget is going to get cut, but the Air Force will get to keep their budget and their stuff. Ha-ha, suck it up weekend warriors. With love and appreciation, Congress”. Or maybe vice-versa.

    Different sources of funding means there is not just one “checking account” paying for both at the same time. While you might want to play along that it is all being paid by “the taxpayer”, unfortunately bureaucratic budgets don’t work that way.

    If Congress says, “Guess what Mtn Home AFB, we are shutting your doors”…which certainly could happen, the Idaho Guard would have a tough time paying for that turf from their “checking account”; yet they still have a requirement to exist.

    So my statement “no one is funding 2 base” is a figurative statement. All of that money does not come from ONE budgetary account. I can relate bro, it’s a tough one to understand. It’s kind of like using an analogy to explain a situation… Boise Airport is to the SLC Airport like Gowen is to MHAFB- kind of difficult to understand. Analogies….remember those story problems in school?

    +Again, Rick, you use the words “the mission”. Can you please articulate “the mission” and how the Guard’s is the same as MHAFB? You might also want to email the MHAFB Commander and let him know he has “multi missions” cuz his web page only lists one.
    I really am interested in what you think is “the mission” (their missions), so I hope you won’t be mute.

    Was that logical enough, or just more “blatantly stupid” stuff?

  24. NO it is not logical… If they are too good to drive that far for their money… Let them eat cake!!

    I will ask the question again… are you…or have you ever been in the military? Where do you get your info?
    You are quite pompous aren’t you??
    You might want to look at that web page…lol.. the IANG already has units under the command of the Wing King you mentioned… in addition to a unit at Whidbey Island, a unit from Tinker AFB Ok. and even a unit from Singapore.

    Remember those reading classes in grade school… guess not.

    Want me to shoot more holes in your story, it wont be hard.

    EDITOR NOTE–RICK and EASTERNER, if you don’t start playing nice, you’r headed for Time Out and comments will bel closed. Don’t make me do it!

  25. Face it folks.. not matter what easterner says… it makes sense to move op’s from Gowen to MHAFB. If easterner and the rest are unwilling to drive to MT Home for the amount of money they make find a more dedicated lot to do their jobs. It shouldn’t be hard in the job climate to find people willing to work for nearly 50k a year.

    I will remain mute to moot and illogical points from here on out.

  26. Dearest military people who think money grows on a tree in my yard… LOL! Sorry man, but Uncle Sam is way way beyond flat broke: You ain’t gonna get most of that money they promised you… neither will I.

    BTW: Most of today’s military is geared to serve as a mercenary force in the Mid-East/Asia… Only a small part is reserved to keeping USA safe.

    You’d think the Arabs would sell us cheap oil for keeping them safe, but instead they grease DC with cash to our politicians who then agree to not notice high oil prices.

    RodSE: I work for free several times a year. I call it direct, hands on community assistance. No middle-man, no transaction, no government involvement. (Government-aid workers hate it. How dare I teach people to fish.)
    It also keeps my yearly income low to avoid paying taxes to the greasy crooks driving our country off a cliff.

    Here’s a link to some credible graphs which did not come from the comic-strip room at the WhiteHouse. America is broke and then some… She is without the ability to pay… Sad but true, we are in decline.

  27. Easterrrr: Recently it was proposed, and rabidly supported by TeamDave, to base 75 F-35 aircraft at Gowen as a training base for US and foreign airman. Basically we were going to be one of the Lockheed-Martin training bases for world aircraft sales. It’s a great idea for MH-AFB… but not for over the residential areas of Boise. Most of the flights are at night once the pilots get past the basics. The USAF is having to give huge bonuses to keep pilots due to airline shortage… A nice bonus is to house them in Boise rather than dusty-ol MH-AFB… Sorry, too noisy, too much air pollution in our little smog-filled terrain depression.

  28. Zippo,
    maybe you haven’t seen the news for the last 40 years, but our military does a lot more than protect your price of fuel to preserve the economy as we know it.

    I for one, like jet noise.
    I also like sirens screaming past my home, the rotors noise of LifeFlight, and the alarm of a nieghbors barking dog announcing an intruder.

  29. It is still a fact the guard is the guard..they NOT the military.. People had the chance to get behind Gowen when there was talk of the F35… most balked and cried… so.. Shut it down…

    Easterner has an agenda… keeping his 50k plus job at BOI… its too hard for him to drive 40 miles each way for that amount of money.

    EDITOR NOTE–You got the last word. Time to move on to new material.

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