Friday, May 17, 2024

Leaders from Barksdale AFB, Fort Johnson tout value of military bases to Senate committee

by BIZ Magazine

Louisiana’s strategic military installations, including Barksdale Air Force Base in Bossier Parish and Fort Johnson in Vernon Parish, play a dual role as vital defense facilities for the state and nation and as significant contributors to the state’s economy.

During a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs held on Tuesday, Barksdale’s 2d Bomb Wing Commander Colonel Michael “Fetch” Maginness and Fort Johnson Garrison Commander Colonel Clifton “CJ” Lopez highlighted the substantial economic impact of their facilities. Together, these installations bring in over $3 billion in federal funding to the state, primarily in the form of salaries and funding for various projects, often contracted to local businesses.

Colonel Maginness outlined ongoing developments at Barksdale, including efforts to modernize aging runways, upgrade on-base facilities, and accommodate 400 new airmen for a division tasked with operating the Long Range Stand Off Missile. Stressing the importance of adapting to technological advancements and evolving threats, he emphasized the role of strategic deterrence in modern warfare.

“With rapid advancements in technology, especially on the part of the Chinese, we can no longer consider our homeland a sanctuary,” stated Colonel Maginness.

Addressing the committee, Colonel Lopez emphasized Fort Johnson’s long-standing legacy as a training ground for soldiers, dating back to World War II. With a diverse base population of over 32,000 individuals, including military personnel, families, civilians, and rotational personnel, Fort Johnson plays a crucial role in national defense readiness.

“Families rely on Vernon Parish schools, and Fort Johnson boasts one of the largest child care facilities in the United States,” noted Colonel Lopez.

Committee member Senator Mike Reese underscored the significant challenges and contributions of Fort Johnson, highlighting its vast landmass and the strain it places on local resources. Committee Chair Senator Adam Bass commended the economic footprint of Barksdale Air Force Base, citing its substantial impact on the local community.

Secretary Charlton Meginley of the Department of Veterans Affairs highlighted Louisiana’s commitment to supporting veterans, citing various initiatives and services aimed at addressing their needs, including property tax breaks, veterans’ homes, and veterans’ cemeteries.

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