Congresswoman and former A-10 pilot tells top AF generals “to put down the tuba and pick up a wrench or a gun”

(DoD photos)

Former A-10 pilot and Arizona Congresswoman Martha McSally is urging the Air Force to dump the bands and put military musicians to work in jobs that improve U.S. national security.

During a congressional hearing on Tuesday, McSally said “the service easily complains about its manning levels, and officials make it ‘their newest excuse’ for prematurely retiring essential, close-air support aircraft like the A-10 Warthog, yet we have hundreds of people playing the tuba and clarinet.”

The Republican House member went on to say: “If we really had a manning crisis, from my perspective, we would really tell people to put down the tuba and pick up a wrench or a gun.”

Congresswoman Martha McSally (@RepMcSally) Photo credit: Twitter
Congresswoman Martha McSally (@RepMcSally) Photo credit: Twitter

McSally made the statements during a House Armed Services Committee hearing at which Defense Secretary Carter and Joint Chiefs chair Gen. Joseph Dunford testified.

According to Air Force Times, band programs have about 540 enlisted airmen, and almost 20 officers.   The service’s more curious career fields have been criticized by officials and airmen, for using funds that could go for other platforms. Those fields include “Tops in Blue” — a touring performance ensemble made up of USAF active-duty members.

The concern that McSally and other members of Congress have is that the A-10 Warthog will go to the bone yard as early as 2018, which would require dismantling two A-10 squadrons , or 49 planes, that year.  An Air Force spokeswoman told Defense News, this month, that the retirement of  the A-10 would mean that in fiscal 2019, 49 aircraft would be inactivated, in fiscal 2020, 64, and in fiscal 2021, 96.

Gen. Dunford said: “As the advocate for close-air support and joint capabilities, I absolutely believe we need a transition plan, and there needs to be a replacement for the A-10 before it goes away.” Dunford also stated there has already been some discussion on the “capability gaps” that still exist between close-air support models like the A-10 and the F-35 joint strike fighter, which is  set to replace the aircraft.

McSally says the “F-35 cannot match the A-10 as a single-mission, close-air support platform.” When it comes to close-air support, she says, the F-35 has its shortfalls.

The A-10 has been “heavily used” in the fight against ISIS — throughout Europe and the Pacific.

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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