During the Fort Rucker-Wiregrass Chapter of AUSA’s quarterly general membership breakfast on Thursday, Aug. 1, United States Representative Bradley Byrne spoke about Fort Rucker, BRAC and military readiness.
He first spoke about the work of Fort Rucker and its influence on the future of Army aviation.
“We had several briefings, and I was continually impressed with everything that I saw,” he said about a recent tour of the Army post. “It lived up to everything that I expected, and I would say even more so.
“We have a lot on our plate in front of us, which is a good thing. We don’t know where we’re going to ultimately be on future vertical lift, but I believe that Fort Rucker and PEO Aviation in Huntsville are playing a critical role in that and will play a critical role in that as well as deciding what we need to do with assisting platforms as we go forward.”
Byrne also briefly addressed BRAC (base realignment and closure) concerns, stating no demonstrable reason to have another BRAC has been shown in Congress.
“I would say, at this point in time, that there is not only no consensus for BRAC, there is actually a consensus against a BRAC,” he said. “Now, you never know in Washington. Things change, but right now, I do not see a BRAC on the horizon.”
Byrne then focused on military readiness, stating the United States is facing even more threats in today’s world.
“The United States faces the most intense and most diverse array of threats that we have seen since the end of World War II,” he said, identifying China, Iran and other countries and terrorist groups. “Those threats don’t just exist in one part of the world. They exist in every part of the world, including our own hemisphere.
“Unfortunately, as those threats were ramping up, America was ramping down. We had such a commanding lead over our adversaries that there was plenty of give for us to have out there. We’ve gotten to the point that we don’t have that anymore. Our competitors have been investing significantly in their abilities, and they are actually using what they invested to continue to build their military capabilities. We’re beginning to hear from them their intentions of what they want to do with the capabilities they have developed.”
He said the United States has “effectively removed” ISIS as a major military and governing force, though there are still warriors active in the Middle East. He also stated that there are still other terrorist groups and countries that provide threats to the United States and the world, though the United States is sending “signals” to many of these threats to warn against taking any actions.
He said Congress has worked to invest in the military’s readiness against threats through National Defense Authorization Acts along with national budgets.
“We’re only going to do this if we’re smarter,” Byrne said about defeating global threats. “We’re more than capable of being smarter, but part of being smarter means we’ve got to understand the threat, the nature of the threat, the extent of the threat, and then take the measures necessary to stand up to that threat. That begins and ends with the men and women that wear our uniform.”
He encouraged those “not in uniform” to support the military.
“Let’s buck up, and let’s be proud that we’ve been given this great gift,” he said. “Let’s give it on to the next generation by supporting these fine men and women here today at Fort Rucker and around the world.”
Before Byrne spoke, Chapter President Col. (ret.) Mark Jones told event-goers AUSA works with Congress to provide for the needs of the Army.
“One thing that is not necessarily known at the local level is the impact AUSA has with members of Congress,” he said. “One of the main missions of AUSA is to educate and inform Congress as to the needs of the Army. You can imagine, the Army is a very large, very bureaucratic, very expensive undertaking, and we need what we need to make sure that these people in these uniforms have everything they absolutely need to deter any threat to this country, and if deterrence fails, to fight, survive and win our nation’s wars.
“It’s very important, and I know it’s not lost on anybody here in the Wiregrass because you understand the economic impact of Fort Rucker to you local communities. You also understand the strategic and global impact of Army aviation to the fighting force and our combatant commanders.”
Jones said the Fort Rucker-Wiregrass Chapter of AUSA was one of the “fastest growing chapters” of the association.
“I’m pleased to report that your chapter is doing well and is growing,” he said. “As a matter of fact, the Fort Rucker-Wiregrass Chapter is the fastest growing chapter in the entire association right now. That doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of work by a lot of volunteers who are not getting paid to beat the pavement and go talk to people about the benefits of the association.”
He said membership numbers are “at historic highs,” calling for any interested individual or business to consider membership.
“Membership equals capability, and as such, obviously, this chapter would fail to exist and the association would cease to exist,” he said. “The benefits of membership far outweigh the cost.”
Jones also introduced the two newest members of the chapter’s executive committee: Chapter Treasurer Mark Ivey and Chapter Vice President for Scholarships 1st Sgt. Kevin Shoun.