In Congress, I consider it a tremendous privilege and responsibility to represent a district that is home to two of our country’s finest military installations – Fort Rucker down in the Wiregrass and Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery. Even beyond the Second District, Alabama as a whole has a significant military footprint, and we should all be very proud of our state’s role in defending our freedom.
I just recently had the opportunity to attend the Change of Command ceremony at Fort Rucker. Major General David Francis is now the Commanding General of USAACE and Fort Rucker, taking over the post from Major General William Gayler.
I have enjoyed working with Gen. Gayler, and I appreciate his steadfast leadership. I wish him the very best as he moves forward with his impressive career. Of course, congratulations are also in order for Gen. Francis. I look forward to continuing to build a strong relationship with him as we work together to advocate for Fort Rucker. It was a really exciting time to be in the Wiregrass, and I was glad to be on-post again to visit with some of our district’s military leaders.
Shifting focus to another part of our state, I also recently had the opportunity to speak on the House floor during consideration of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee Fiscal Year 2020 funding bill to raise awareness for the facility updates needed at Dannelly Field in Montgomery to support the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter mission.
In December of 2017, we received the exciting news that the 187th Fighter Wing at Dannelly Field was selected as a preferred location for the bed down of the coveted F-35 mission. The first aircraft is scheduled to arrive in the next few years, and Dannelly Field needs a correctly sized and properly configured maintenance facility to support and repair this next-generation fighter. The existing facilities that currently service the F-16 Red Tail’s squadron are inadequate. Aircraft maintenance is housed in three temporary trailer facilities, maintenance shops are 43 percent undersized, and the required tool storage is kept in aircraft parking spaces inside the hangar.
As we await the arrival of this cutting-edge aircraft, and as we continue through the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process, I look forward to working alongside my colleagues to address this pressing issue. We must provide our men and women in uniform adequate and acceptable working spaces so they can perform their jobs accurately and efficiently, and I will continue to advocate for these necessary facility updates at Dannelly.
The military installations in our district and across our great state perform vital work for the security of this nation, and I will always advocate for their proper support through my role in Congress. It is a true honor to have this platform to fight for the men and women who serve us all.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.