Shutdown grounds Davis-Monthan AFB A-10 fleet - Tucson News Now

Shutdown grounds Davis-Monthan AFB A-10 fleet, furloughs 500+ civilians

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The federal government shutdown is having a huge effect on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson.

They have two major worries: Their A-10 training mission and their civilian employees who have been furloughed without pay.

You may have noticed that the A-10 jets we're used to seeing up in the sky are not there.

Davis-Monthan 355th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Kevin Blanchard says we are in a fight in Afghanistan so any training or anything else to do with that mission continues.

However, the A-10s are grounded and so are their pilots.

"Our A-10 fleet, since we're a training mission, we're grounded. We're not flying any A-10s right now until we receive money. As far as keeping that fleet healthy, our maintainers are at work doing work, but there's no money to buy parts or fuel or oil or things like that," Blanchard says.

The D-M commander says that will have a cost.

"We have a minimum number of sorties we're required to fly in a month and you can do that in two or three weeks. But if we go two or three weeks into the month without that, now we're really going to start to affect readiness proficiency and currency of our flying force. That will be a bill to recover from," Blanchard says.

Blanchard says that means planes will have to be fixed and pilots retrained.

He says the longer the shutdown lasts, the more concerned he is for his civilian workers as well.

Blanchard says so far 510 civilians have been sent home.

He has many others who are working in safety or health who have no idea when they'll be paid.

Blanchard says the work the furloughed civilians do is just not getting done.

So, the commissary is closed.

It's a grocery store on the base that serves the military and some veterans.

The Airmen and Family Readiness Center that helps the families of our military in several ways has been closed down.

Basically, civilians who help make life better or easier for those who serve and for their families are gone.

"It's a huge mission impact to not have them. They're a valuable part of our workforce. We depend on them day to day," Col. Blanchard says, about losing the civilians. "It's an impact. It hurts our airmen and their families."

"Fear of the unknown I think is the worst fear for any human and that's what they're facing because they're out of work. Don't know when they'll be coming back to work. Don't know what their next paycheck--if they'll get one-- is going to look like. So I know we have a lot of our civilians out there in the community hurting," Blanchard says.

Commander Blanchard says his civilian employees have suffered through the sequestration, and now this.

He's worried that he could lose his well-trained and efficient civilian workers to other jobs.

Thursday, many veterans who live in and around Tucson, and who depend on the commissary, drove up to find it closed.

"I just didn't think the commissary fit in that category, but I guess it does," said disabled Korean War Veteran Joe Szymanski.

Army veteran Steve Sinkovich worried about U.S. military personnel and their families in other places too.

"I'm fine. I can go to the stores, but I was thinking about remote places where there's just a commissary and families may have to drive 50, 100 miles or--that may not have other resources," Sinkovich says.

He is angry.

"The Congress, the Senate, the House. They placed an unreasonable burden upon the common man. For what? We're paying for all of this in so many different ways and we'll continue to pay for years," Sinkovich says. "Come on, Congress. Do something. Get together. Work it out. This is ridiculous."

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