In a June 13th letter to the Northwest Florida Daily News entitled "Eglin, BRAC, and an Air Force acting recklessly," Representative Jeff Miller says he inserted his own legislative language in HR 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 to "explicitly require the Air Force to keep the Air Armament Center at Eglin" over the wishes of USAF staff and planners.
Playing politics with defense is a bad idea. Do we really want each of our 535 Congresspersons across the U.S. asserting his or her undue influence and power, and violating the autonomy of our military to direct its assets as it knows best? It is the military, not lone Congressmen like Mr. Miller, who are the professionals in this field. They best understand how to get the most out of every defense dollar. Micromanaging will only serve to make the Air Force more costly and less effective when already 43 cents out of every dollar spent by Congress is borrowed. It is unfortunate that asserting undue influence and power like this is the only behavior most members of Congress seems to understand.
Eglin AFB is unique, and its capabilities as a range, operational base, and test and research center will never be matched elsewhere. It has the potential to expand missions and adapt like few military installations on Earth. Units and missions can and should change with defense needs, and not be hamstrung by local politicians. If the USAF were allowed to do its job and relocated units as necessary to sustain defense, who is to say Eglin would not see an increase in personnel and influence in the future instead of clinging to a headquarters unit? What senior military commander would want to relocate to Eglin with a local Congressman so willing to interfere in the planning process?
Mr. Miller should get his priorities right. Instead of worrying about the placement of one- and two-star generals, perhaps he should be more concerned with making sure the military mission is accomplished most efficiently. While we are at it, the citizens of the Panhandle would be better served by a Congressman who, instead of focusing solely on passing a defense budget, refused to violate every American citizen's right to due process as recognized in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution, which is what he did when he voted for the 2012 and 2013 National Defense Authorization Acts. These bills gave President Obama illegal powers to detain U.S. citizens, without charges and without legal counsel, under the guise of funding the military. I can only suppose our Congressman considered the loss of our fundamental liberties less important than passing a defense budget.
I've heard some military men say "Don't worry about the ants if the elephants are about to stomp on you." Jeff Miller is micromanaging ants when elephants like debt and Constitutional neglect are about to stomp on him - and all of us.