The Ogden Standard Examiner's political endorsement of First Congressional District Democrat Challenger Donna McAleer over respected incumbent Republican Congressman Rob Bishop was disappointing to many of us who have been actively working over many years to preserve and protect Hill AFB and Northern Utah's Defense and Space interests. I (we) respectfully disagree and believe the Editorial Board's decision is short-sighted and simply doesn't ring true.
While Ms. McAleer is to be commended for her willingness as a public citizen to participate in the political process and to run for public office, we simply haven't seen her around previously for any of the important battles impacting Hill AFB or ATK interests. Verbal promises of action are great, but reality is more important. Congressman Rob Bishop has built an outstanding record of working hard for Utah's defense interests.
Perhaps the OSE Editors have forgotten, but here's a short reminder of a few of Congressman Bishop's accomplishments which have strengthened Hill AFB and Utah jobs.
Against overwhelming opposition by disparate interests, Congressman Bishop successfully authored and passed the landmark "Utah Test Range and Protection Act" [Public Law ] which permanently protects the UTTR against high level nuclear waste encroachments and environmental restrictions, meaning that the range remains the largest and most flexible military range in the lower 48 states. The UTTR is the anchor for future missions for Hill AFB as other ranges in the nation are becoming severely encroached upon. If Bishop had not been successful in taking legislative action, the UTTR would likely have been downgraded by environmental restrictions. That devastating downgrade would have made it highly unlikely that Hill would have been selected as the First Operational Location for basing of the new F-35 Fighter Jets to replace the old F-16s at the 388th Fighter Wing. Instead, Congressman Bishop's strong advocacy for protecting the range will continue to bear fruit for decades to come. His protection of the UTTR is the single most important thing that could have been done to enhance and preserve the future of Hill AFB. For this, Congressman Bishop rightly deserves our continued thanks and recognition.
His strong advocacy for Aircraft Modernization in the Congress, including the F-22 and F-35, will help preserve those programs for future workload for Ogden ALC, which has been assigned responsibility for sustainment of those programs.
Congressman Bishop has worked to promote Public-Private Partnerships at the Ogden Air Logistics Center bringing benefits to both Private Industry and Government Workers by leveraging high technology in both sectors to train the workforce of tomorrow. In such a partnership with ATK, he helped secure Defense Production Act funds to make Ogden ALC a Center of Excellence for Composite Technology, which is a wave of the future for all aerospace platforms. He helped to make Ogden ALC the sustainment center for Air Force Unmanned Systems. He helped secure funding for two separate expansions of the Software Center.
His advocacy for Hill AFB plans and programs have resulted in F-22 maintenance facilities construction, improvements to Hill AFB's runway and ramp-space areas, and several other important facilities modernization projects.
His tireless efforts over several years in supporting the Falcon Hill Enhanced Use Lease project at Hill AFB's West Gate, are directly responsible for modernizing the ICBM Directorate facilities, solidifying that mission's presence on the base, The Falcon Hill EUL will result in future expansion and modernization of Hill AFB's Administrative areas, as well as bring hundreds of jobs and millions in new commercial development to Northern Utah.
Congressman Bishop's seniority on key Congressional Committees, including the House Armed Services Committee -where he retains seniority through a special arrangement with Speaker Boehner, as well as the powerful House Rules Committee, allows him an unequalled platform from which to advocate, not only for Utah's best interests, but also more importantly, for a strong national defense.
Criticism of Congressman Bishop for the current reductions in the U.S. Air Force people and budgets are misplaced. The Obama Administration has pushed those cuts over the past four years, amounting to nearly a $1 trillion in defense cuts. President Obama's plan for an additional $1 trillion in defense cuts over the next 10 years is something that would be devastating to Northern Utah, and to our nation as a whole. Congressman Bishop is actively opposing those cuts.
Just last week, Congressman Bishop travelled to the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) Headquarters in Ohio to meet personally with AFMC Commander, General Janet Wolfenbarger, to discuss the Administration's reorganization plans and the impacts on Hill AFB, with a view towards advocating for Hill AFB workloads going into the future. He is a very concerned, hands-on Congressman who is respected on both sides of the aisle in Washington, and who has proven that he is able to get things done.
As far as ATK and NASA cuts are concerned, any fair-minded observer of the events of the last four years under President Obama with its unilateral cancellation of the Constellation Program, and redistribution of billions in NASA program funds to both the Russians and global warming initiatives, cannot lay those problems at Congressman Bishop's feet. To the contrary, Congressman Bishop has joined with a bipartisan group of Members to oppose may of the Obama Administration's new NASA initiatives. Over the Administration's objections, Congressman Bishop and Senator Hatch were successful in working together to obtain language requiring retention of a Heavy-Lift Capability for the Space Launch System (SLS), which will ensures continued solid rocket motor jobs at ATK.
From where I (we) sit, we need to return Congressman Bishop to Washington to continue to fight for our best interests. We cannot have a great deal of confidence that a freshman member of President Obama's same political party would be able to stave-off those ill advised cuts or to continuously oppose his wrong-headed policies which in many aspects continue to devastate both our defense and space industrial base and capabilities. With his knowledge, experience and influence on these matters, it is crucial now, more than ever, that we return Congressman Rob Bishop to Washington.
McCall lives in Ogden.