While the possibility exists of trimming the defense budget by $487 billion over the next decade, it’s important that Utah make sure that a strong case is presented for Hill Air Force Base. The base has many advantages to boast of, including its desert terrain in its Utah Test and Training Range, runways free of residential development and Falcon Hill research park, a business development area close to the base.
Nevertheless, budget-crunching, as well as an administration less receptive to Utah’s congressional delegation, keeps Hill vulnerable. With future BRACs on the horizon, it is imperative that the Utah Defense Alliance, a group that is tasked with boosting Hill, have the resources it needs to lobby on its behalf. The impact of Hill extends beyond defense; it is also a job center for Utah.
In our opinion, more money than the previous amount of $500,000 should be allocated to the Defense Alliance. Other bases across the country, also keeping a nervous eye on the future, are expending more monetary resources than Utah. We need to make sure that every effort and resource is used to boost Hill.
Despite the budget worries, there is a potential positive for Hill base. Moving the Army Reserve, as well as the Utah Air National Guard, from Salt Lake City to Hill Air Force Base, a 30-minute drive away, would be great news for Hill. The base can easily support the transfer.
Sen. Orrin Hatch has offered legislation that would allow the Army Reserve to move from Salt Lake City to Hill without a fiscal consequence to the military. Getting the Utah Air Guard to Hill, if necessary, may require some more brainstorming.
The point is, despite the concerns about Hill’s future role in the military, the base’s importance to the U.S. military remains strong. We need effective advocates for the base’s future, and shouldn’t scrimp on the resources needed.