THINK ABOUT IT EDITORIAL: Eliminating military training program bad for Marana, southern Arizona

MARANA, AZ (Tucson News Now) - EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is a guest commentary. Viewers with responsible opposing views are welcome to respond by clicking HERE.

My name is Thom Cope. I am the Chair of the Marana Chamber of Commerce.

Colonel Lee Winningham, Brigade Commander, 98th Aviation Troop Command has informed the Marana Chamber that the Army has decided to eliminate the Apache Helicopter Battalion.

The Marana Chamber of Commerce is very much opposed to this closure as we stand for the business community and the economic growth of Marana and Southern Arizona.  The Chamber values the economic impact and national security provided by the Arizona National Guard aviation training mission at the Silverbell Army Heliport and Western Army Aviation Training Site (WAATS).  Congress needs to take every action possible to continue and restore the aviation training mission and resources at Silverbell and WAATS.

Divestment of Southern Arizona National Guard resources will compromise critical National Guard aviation training programs. The shift in resources may even lead to the eventual deactivation of the entire aviation training mission here.

These changes will cause significant negative impacts to our local businesses and the economy in and around Marana. This divestment decision by the U.S. Army and National Guard Bureau is projected to have more than a $38 million immediate economic impact and an additional $250 million impact by 2021.

The Marana Chamber of Commerce is very concerned about this negative economic effect on our local businesses. Please contact your Congressperson. Save the Base; Save our economy.

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