As a member of the community and the Vermont Air National Guard, I find the accusations made in a recent Boston Globe F-35 article unsubstantiated and disturbing. Ms. Kathleen Ferguson, Acting Assistant Secretary, USAF Installations, Logistics and Environment responded, but I did not see it printed.
There are a number of inaccuracies and misleading comments in the recent article about the F-35 basing process. Most concerning was the assertion that the Air Force made its decision based on “older data.” That is not correct. I clearly explained to the reporter, and the Air Force has assured local officials in writing, that the analysis from the site survey shows that Burlington Air Guard Station would have made the F-35 candidate list even with the revisions.
The Air Force is still analyzing data and has not yet made a final basing decision. This important fact is buried in the story, and the article implies the Air Force has made a final basing decision based on criteria screening data. When the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force make a decision later this year, they will do so based on current, accurate information to include a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.
Also, it was disappointing that the article lent an extraordinary amount of credence to an “anonymous pentagon official” who characterized himself as having insight into the Air Force’s basing process. This is unfortunate because, again, no final basing decision has been made.
The USAF strategic basing framework is centered around a highly staffed transparent, repeatable, and defendable process. The overall decision is the balance between 5 categories: cost, capacity, mission, environment (which incorporates noise), and military judgment. To categorize a “preferred alternative” basing decision process to replace F-16s with F-35s in Vermont as “fudged” ignores the cumulative effect of all five contributing categories and the Air Force’s layered strategic basing decision process.
Brigadier General Dick Harris
Assistant Adjutant General for Air
Vermont Air National Guard