Horizon, Host: Ted Simons

March 19, 2007


Host: Jose Cardenas

Air Force Week


  • HORIZON helps kick off Air Force Week with a look at the impact of Luke Air Force Base on the Valley. Retired General Tom Browning will be the guest.
Guests:
  • Randy Pullen - Chairman, Arizona Republican Party
  • Brigadier General Tom Browning - Former commander Luke Air Force Base
Category: Military

View Transcript
José Cárdenas:
Tonight on Horizon, immigration issues and a John McCain run for the White House are battle fronts for the Arizona Republican Party. And air force week kicks off with a look at Luke Air Force base and its impact on the valley. Next on "Horizon."

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
Good evening and thanks for joining us tonight on Horizon. I'm Jose Cardenas. Arizona is at the forefront of the battle of immigration reform. Our state has seen the passage of proposition 200, which requires proof of citizenship before registering to vote, and proposition 300, which requires non-citizens to pay out of state tuition. The new chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, Randy Pullen, was intimately involved in both efforts. He joins us now.

José Cárdenas:
Randy, welcome to Horizon. You've been here before in different capacities we want to talk about some of those same issues though that you've discussed before, beginning with immigration. How do you think those two propositions we mentioned, 200 and 300, have impacted the state thus far?

Randy Pullen:
I think they've had a tremendous impact, Jose. Not only the state but on a national level. Certainly proposition 200 laid the groundwork for requiring voter I.D. at the polls as well as proof of citizenship when you're registered to vote. And proposition 300, which was passed overwhelmingly by Arizona voters both democratic and republican, required illegal aliens to pay out-of-state tuition for post secondary education. That one is just now going into law, and actually going into force. Of course, A.S.U. is now checking identifications in order to determine whether or not they should be paying in state or out-of-state tuition. So I think they've had an impact on Arizona. I think that we need to have more on the immigration front. We still have a tremendous amount of drug, gangs and crime coming over the border. Arizona is the transportation thoroughfare for all those types of things coming into the United States. And we need to bring that to an end. And I think that elected officials here in Arizona are now stepping up to the task and are admitting and stating that they do in fact and can have an impact on illegal immigration problem in Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
Now, how would either proposition 200 or 300 if fully implemented impact the kind of things you were talking about? Crime and drugs and everything else that you say are coming across the border?

Randy Pullen:
Well, I think that part of 200 which would impact some of those issues a little bit more is the part with regards to benefits that are not supposed to be provided to illegal aliens unless they're required by federal law. And that part still has not been fully implemented. In fact is still in court. And it's been in the state appeals court for over a year now and we're still waiting for the opinion from the state court as to whether or not Attorney General Goddard's opinion with regard to how it should be enforce is correct or not. I think once that's settled, and I believe it will be settled in the favor of prop 200, that in fact it will be in force with regards to a lot of benefits. I think what it says is -- not only that but what it says in general across the state is that we're serious about illegal immigration. And it's a mindset more than it is anything else, Jose. Once people realize that we're serious about enforcing our laws and that we will in fact with regard to employer sanctions, which is a bill that just passed throughout house, is now headed to the senate, that we are going to impose those types of laws in Arizona and enforce them. I think it sends a message that you're not welcome here and you need to think about going someplace else or back to your place of origin.

José Cárdenas:
Now, the voter I.D. portions of prop 200 did go into effect. Any evidence as to how it may have impacted the last set of elections?

Randy Pullen:
Well, let me say this about it: some of the things that were said, that would be bad about it, that it wasn't going to work and was going to cause turmoil in elections and that election sites would be turning away a significant number of voters who wouldn't be able to vote, that just didn't transpire. In fact, it was a very orderly process. Very few people were in fact -- were not able to vote. And I think that it was a little bit of a surprise, I think, to all the sides how smoothly it did go.

José Cárdenas:
Now, you mentioned employer sanctions. You're referring to representative Pearce's bill?

Randy Pullen:
Yes. House bill 2779 which passed out of the house last week, and is now on to the senate. And not only did it pass, all 43 republicans voted for it but we also had 13 democrats who voted for it. So it was an overwhelmingly passed employer sanctions bill.

José Cárdenas:
Give us a brief overview as to what it would do.

Randy Pullen:
A brief overview of house bill 2779 would require employers to continue to do what they do now, which is complete an I-9 and turn it in as well as get the appropriate documentation from each employee. Beyond that, it would make them responsible for acknowledges in an affidavit that the people that are working for them are in fact citizens and are not here illegally. And it also puts in -- it's a class 6 felony the first time and it goes up from there on each subsequent -- each crime is imposed later on. So it essentially will put the focus of the employer on being serious about paying attention to who they're hiring. Which I think is a needed thing. It's been overwhelmingly shown by polls that have been done, numerous polls, that 80\% of Arizonans believe that employers play a role in the issue, in the problem of illegal immigration in terms of employment and that in fact they should be doing something about it.

José Cárdenas:
Now many of those employers, though, that we were talking about that are at least perceived to be part of this issue are republicans. What do you say to them?

Randy Pullen:
Well, what I say to them is that this is not only a broad-based state issue, it's a broad-based national issue. And in general, American citizens believe that employers should be held responsible if they're in fact knowingly hiring illegal aliens to work in their businesses.

José Cárdenas:
And you have other traditionally republican groups such as chambers of commerce saying that if this passes it will hurt Arizona competitively. What do you say to that?

Randy Pullen:
I think they're overstating the case. Just like they said we'd have tremendous problems with proposition 200 with regard to requiring ID to register to vote or ID at the polls, I think when it all settles out that, I'm an employer. I have a small business with employees working for me. I understand what the impact would be on my business. I think that I can comply with it very easily. I've talked to a number of hotel companies who are already following similar type procedures themselves in terms of identifying potential illegal aliens and checking their social security numbers with the basic pilot program, which is not being required incidentally from employers in Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
Let's switch topics a little bit and talk about the presidential elections. John McCain. Does he have the support of the Republican Party in Arizona?

Randy Pullen:
I think that -- let's just kind of put it in perspective. We're fortunate to have two good senators in Arizona, Senator Kyl and Senator McCain and they do a lot for Arizona. And of course, Senator McCain is one of the frontrunners for the presidential nomination for the Republican Party. Here in Arizona, the party is neutral as with respect to the candidates. And we think that we have a number of good candidates. And we think that at this point to commit to any one of them this early would probably not be a good thing for the Republican Party, since it's pretty much -- there is quite a bit of division as to who is being supported among the three major candidates here in Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
Any sense, though, for how senator McCain stacks up against the other two candidates you're referring to, I assume Romney and Giuliani?

Randy Pullen:
Oh, yeah. I think if an election were held today Senator McCain would probably win that election.

José Cárdenas:
Now, your election as chairman was somewhat controversial. Some thought you would be a dividing force in the party. It's been a few months now. What can you tell us about your priorities and what the reaction has been thus far?

Randy Pullen:
Well, I think first of all the Republican Party is united in Arizona. Any issue with respect to divisiveness is just rhetoric. Republicans are very good about this. They have elections. And once the election is over we go back to work doing what we need to do to get ready for the next election. And we are working. We dream big dreams here in Arizona about what we can do. And I think it's a very positive environment for the Republican Party right now. Clearly we lost some races last year. But we think that we have a huge opportunity to get those seats back this coming election cycle. And we're very focused on that and working very hard towards that. There's only 596 days left until the next election so not much time.

José Cárdenas:
I'm sure you'll be working every one of those 596 days. Randy Pullen, I'm sorry but we're out of time but we'll try to get you back to discuss this in more depth later. Randy Pullen, Chairman Arizona Republican Party thank you for joining us.

Randy Pullen:
Thank you José

José Cárdenas:
This Wednesday on Horizon we'll be speaking with Arizona Democratic Chairman David Waid.

José Cárdenas:
This day marks the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. It's a day laden with special meaning for those stationed at Luke air force base. This year is the 60th anniversary of the air force and air force week begins today at Luke. It will conclude this weekend with the Luke days air show. Larry Lemmons takes us to the west valley air force base for a visit.

David Orr:
50,000 hours over the valley of the sun. We are producing nearly 400 f-16 combat-ready fighter pilots who are ready to go to Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever our nation calls in the preservation of freedom.

Larry Lemmons:
Luke Air Force base has been known as home for the fighter pilots since the Second World War. Named after the first aviator to win the Medal of Honor, the base is represented by the 56th fighter wing, the air forces largest and one of the most decorated units in air force history.

David Orr:
We have history. And it's been consistent since 9/11. And in all of our past wars over the last 16-years of continued combat operations as f-16 pilots run the 56 fighter wing at Luke air force base doing great things in our wars. Our instructor pilot cadre are 80\% combat veterans over the last 16 years. So we select the most highly-qualified instructors to train these new future wingman in the f-16.

Larry Lemmons:
Various forms of training are undertaken at Luke. The most common is the seven months of intense instruction for new lieutenants fresh out of pilot school. Luke training involves six to eight weeks of academics, time in the simulator and different types of flying instructions. A typical flight lasts over an hour after which every detail of the mission is scrutinized. Students generally work 12 hours a day. But presumably the flight itself is the most anticipated part of that day.

David Orr:
If you were to come into duty about four hours prior to that generally, to mission plan, to be given sotrie, air-to-air, air to ground, transition. Two and a half hours prior sometimes two hours and fifteen minutes prior, somewhere in that range he does a briefing with his instructor pilot. They go through every detail administratively with how the sortie is going to work out, the sortie being the mission their going to fly, and then getting actually getting into the details of the tactical portion they're going to fly. A normal pre-flight and -- starting engines before takeoff and checklist is going to be probably 200 or 300 checklist items to do. We make sure all the switches are in place. When we get engine start we go through a long, detailed process of making sure the engine is good, our flight controls are good, hydraulic oil, you name it. Every part of that system is ready to go. The maintainers on the ground are dedicated crew chief on the ground and his assist, it could be a weapons specialist, an avionics specialist assisting the launch will take care of any details, too, as they walk around the plane. Each unit has a mascot or a saying that goes around with them so when that end of runway crew is saying you are good to go and they give a firm salute to the pilot, the pilot returns a salute and he is going to give that given mascot action. Whether it be strength and honor which is the 308 fighter squadron and it's a hatchet kind of maneuver with a sword-- or the spike bulldog who is ready to make a fight happen, those are the things you would see at the end of the runway.

David Orr:
So this brand-new lieutenant who goes through this seven month course, ends up graduating as a near mission ready pilot. He goes to his follow on assignment. Within a couple short months he could be in combat flying combat sorties in preservation of our nation's freedom.

Larry Lemmons:
Luke also trains maintenance specialists for the f-16 which is still the work horse of the air force. The base has tee employed 1300 airmen in the last two years to fight in various operations. The loss of personnel has put a strain on some units.

David Orr:
Talk about an unique mission of the fighter wing. A very very high operation. 160 sortees every day is a busy operation. We'll have our first launch at 7:00 in the morning and we'll go until midnight launching airplanes and recovering airplanes. So when, for instance, our civil engineers or our duty forces, for example, have half their active duty force here because all of their airmen are deployed. 50\% of them are deployed, it is a strain, no doubt. So they try to do more with less. They try to be efficient with their missions to support the 56 fighter wing. And we don't work around it at all. We just come to the realization that you got to find efficiencies in other ways. So in terms of the security forces we have a contract unit of professionals, many of them retired air force members and army soldiers, who man our gates, for instance. So to relieve the loss of 20 or 30 security forces defenders, we hire a contract unit that is very professional in their own rights to man the gates. So those are the kind of things we do.

Larry Lemmons:
The rapid growth of the west valley has also put pressure on the base.

David Orr:
The relationship with all of our surrounding communities is absolutely incredible. I mean, i told you i was a military brat. And in those days, the air force base was satisfied as far away as possible, for noise and everything, we were just put away. The community had no idea if it was an air force, army, navy unit, they didn't know what it was. Those days have all changed. Certainly in the past 16 years since Desert Shield and Desert Storm when we've been in continuous combat, the public is much more aware in a good way. The community, regardless of their politics, all the communities around Luke just enjoy having, in our case, air force airmen living in their communities. They appreciate the service of all armed forces members. And there is a patriotic fervor I think in our community. So when the development of the valley, and the valley of the sun which is such a great place 12 to live, we have that dill dilemma if you want to call it where commercial interests wanted to develop housing out this way. It's happening. It's happening all around the valley. But because of our great partnerships and the relationship we have with the surrounding communities we're doing it in a way that we call compatible land use. We're able to maintain the mission of the 56 fighter wing for now and through 15 or 20 years through legislation and partnerships with our great community to keep the mission completely viable, to be optimizing the training of the world's greatest fighter pilots. At the same time, having our cities and our surrounding neighborhoods able to flourish and develop as well.

Larry Lemmons:
The F-16 is due to be phased out by 2025. It will be replaced by the joint strike fighter, the F-35. One base, Egg Lund, is already slated to be a training wing for that aircraft. Luke could be one as well.

David Orr:
We would think based on our relationship with the surrounding communities, based on the great weather, based on our treasure, the Barry M. Goldwater Range, we would say sure Luke Air Force Base seems to be a perfect location to choose for the Joint-Strike Fighter.

Larry Lemmons:
Because of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan involve so many ground forces, the Air Force is anxious to point out the role it plays in support of those missions.

David Orr:
You might think if you're a normal community member, well, there's probably not a lot of flying going on there in Iraq. Oh, boy. The air force is heavily engaged. 25,000 air force members in Iraq, Afghanistan, nearly 8,000 Arizonans wearing Air Force blue uniforms serving the nation. Just an incredible thing.

Jose Cardenas:
Here now to talk more about the economic impact of Luke Air Force Base and its future, the former commander of the base, Brigadier General Tom Browning who is now retired. General Browning welcome to "Horizon."

Tom Browning:
Thank you Jose, glad to be here.

Jose Cardenas:
General, how close did we come to not being in a position to celebrate Luke Air Force Base? It was one of the bases, I assume, that was under consideration for closure a few years ago. You were involved in that process.

Tom Browning:
Right. Well, all of the bases in the U.S. Military were reviewed in terms of their capacity to be able to complete their mission and perform their mission over a long period of time. And they were graded and ranked and many discussions. There was a base closure commission appointed. Luke was considered under that process along with every other military installation in this country. Fortunately the state of Arizona has a long history of supporting the military installations. Legislation to support those things, local communities that enforce zoning regulations around the bases. So that Arizona was very well-prepared to be able to do that.

Jose Cardenas:
And you co-chaired the governor's commission on that.

Tom Browning:
Right. Governor Napolitano, that whole process was really on the very near horizon when Governor Napolitano was elected. So she asked me to be the part-time military advisor and the lion's share of that task was organized and then to co-chair for a task force to make sure we had a good strategy, not simply to satisfy the -- but for long-term preservation of all our military installations in Arizona.

Jose Cardenas:
How important is Luke Air Force Base to the Arizona economy?

Tom Browning:
In terms of the numbers, if you categorize it as Luke Air Force Base Inc., it has an annual economic impact of $1.4 billion. Direct employment, counting some civilians that work at the base, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 8500 people. And the people from Luke could give you the precise, current numbers. But that's a pretty close ball park.

Jose Cardenas:
So we're talking about three super bowls all in one year.

Tom Browning:
That's right. That's right. And I think there's a couple of important things to mention about the economic impact of Luke. One is that that new revenues, if you will, coming into the economy of the state of Arizona, not just for Luke but all the military installations, is very stable. So in spite of the fact that many segments of our economy take dramatic upturns and then downturns of the economy, that economic impact of the military installations is very stable. The other point to realize is the vast majority of individuals who live and work at Luke Air Force Base, military, live off base. And it's not simply Glendale, Peoria, Goodyear, Avondale. When I was the commander at Luke we had Luke personnel who lived in Mesa and Tempe. Contractors who contract work at Luke Air Force Base come from all over the state. So the economic impact of any one single installation, whether Luke, Davis Maupin, Marine Corps. Air Station in Yuma has a ripple and domino effect throughout the state. Those people who live here three-quarters at Luke buy homes in the local community, they pay sales tax, kids go to the local schools, so on and so forth. Those numbers I just quoted and what you hear quoted currently came out of a study by the McGuire Company in 2002. That was based on FY 2000 data. So those numbers are five years old. I'm happy to say the Legislature last year appropriated the money to update that study. They should be out later this year.

Jose Cardenas:
It will show even greater economic impact?

Tom Browning:
I believe it will.

Jose Cardenas:
General, one of the big issues last time around was the threat that encroachment development around the air base poses to the survival of Luke. Is that still a concern?

Tom Browning:
Absolutely. Encroachment, and by that we mean the building of the structures that are incompatible with aviation operations moving closer and closer to the base, is a threat to any installation, military or civilian, that flies airplanes. Airplanes are noisy. Sky Harbor Airport has difficulty with many of the same fundamental issues. Around the military base because the nature of military airplanes they tend to be a little more noisy than some of the civilian traffic, particularly the light airplane things. So it gathers a little more attention. But I will tell you that as I said earlier, the state through Legislation, through the support of the governor, local communities, zoning regulations and everything have been very supportive. But there are constant pressures on that. For one reason or another, about incompatible, primarily residential moving closer and closer to the base. So I don't think we can ever say that we're going to reach a day where we can declare victory on encroachment and forget about it. Because as soon as we do, land will be purchased or different ways to overcome zoning regulations in some cases. Next thing you know we start to have the problem due to encroachment. Look at the former Williams Air Force Base. It was the encroachment pressures that were largely responsible for the closure of Williams.

Jose Cardenas:
General we have about 30 seconds left. What can you tell us briefly about the bigger issues of the strain on the military posed by the war on terror? They say we have about 30 seconds.

Tom Browning:
The war on terror has put a huge strain on military forces. Primarily born by the Army and the U.S. Marine Corps. But the Air Force feels it as well. Luke has deployed over 2000 people and the most of those were in the support area.

Jose Cardenas:
We're going to have to leave it at that General Browning, thank you for joining us.

Tom Browning:
Thank you.

Merry Lucero:
The environment is the topic of discussion at the State Capitol as conservation organization members and state lawmakers come together to talk about environmentally-related legislation. Plus the benefits of walking for people over 50 are becoming more apparent with every step. That's Tuesday on "Horizon."

Jose Cardenas:
Wednesday an interview with satirist and author P. J. O'Rourke. Thursday a look at the Employer Sanctions Bill at the State Legislature. Friday don't forget to join us for the "Journalists Roundtable." I'm Jose Cardenas. That's the Monday edition of "Horizon." Thanks for joining us.

Announcer:
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Arizona Republican Party


  • A discussion of issues including immigration, John McCain, and the future of the Arizona Republican Party with Randy Pullen, new Republican Party chairman.
Guests:
  • Randy Pullen - Chairman, Arizona Republican Party
  • Brigadier General Tom Browning - Former commander Luke Air Force Base
Category: Elections

View Transcript
José Cárdenas:
Tonight on Horizon, immigration issues and a John McCain run for the White House are battle fronts for the Arizona Republican Party. And air force week kicks off with a look at Luke Air Force base and its impact on the valley. Next on "Horizon."

Announcer:
"Horizon" is made possible by contributions from the friends of Eight, members of your Arizona PBS station. Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
Good evening and thanks for joining us tonight on Horizon. I'm Jose Cardenas. Arizona is at the forefront of the battle of immigration reform. Our state has seen the passage of proposition 200, which requires proof of citizenship before registering to vote, and proposition 300, which requires non-citizens to pay out of state tuition. The new chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, Randy Pullen, was intimately involved in both efforts. He joins us now.

José Cárdenas:
Randy, welcome to Horizon. You've been here before in different capacities we want to talk about some of those same issues though that you've discussed before, beginning with immigration. How do you think those two propositions we mentioned, 200 and 300, have impacted the state thus far?

Randy Pullen:
I think they've had a tremendous impact, Jose. Not only the state but on a national level. Certainly proposition 200 laid the groundwork for requiring voter I.D. at the polls as well as proof of citizenship when you're registered to vote. And proposition 300, which was passed overwhelmingly by Arizona voters both democratic and republican, required illegal aliens to pay out-of-state tuition for post secondary education. That one is just now going into law, and actually going into force. Of course, A.S.U. is now checking identifications in order to determine whether or not they should be paying in state or out-of-state tuition. So I think they've had an impact on Arizona. I think that we need to have more on the immigration front. We still have a tremendous amount of drug, gangs and crime coming over the border. Arizona is the transportation thoroughfare for all those types of things coming into the United States. And we need to bring that to an end. And I think that elected officials here in Arizona are now stepping up to the task and are admitting and stating that they do in fact and can have an impact on illegal immigration problem in Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
Now, how would either proposition 200 or 300 if fully implemented impact the kind of things you were talking about? Crime and drugs and everything else that you say are coming across the border?

Randy Pullen:
Well, I think that part of 200 which would impact some of those issues a little bit more is the part with regards to benefits that are not supposed to be provided to illegal aliens unless they're required by federal law. And that part still has not been fully implemented. In fact is still in court. And it's been in the state appeals court for over a year now and we're still waiting for the opinion from the state court as to whether or not Attorney General Goddard's opinion with regard to how it should be enforce is correct or not. I think once that's settled, and I believe it will be settled in the favor of prop 200, that in fact it will be in force with regards to a lot of benefits. I think what it says is -- not only that but what it says in general across the state is that we're serious about illegal immigration. And it's a mindset more than it is anything else, Jose. Once people realize that we're serious about enforcing our laws and that we will in fact with regard to employer sanctions, which is a bill that just passed throughout house, is now headed to the senate, that we are going to impose those types of laws in Arizona and enforce them. I think it sends a message that you're not welcome here and you need to think about going someplace else or back to your place of origin.

José Cárdenas:
Now, the voter I.D. portions of prop 200 did go into effect. Any evidence as to how it may have impacted the last set of elections?

Randy Pullen:
Well, let me say this about it: some of the things that were said, that would be bad about it, that it wasn't going to work and was going to cause turmoil in elections and that election sites would be turning away a significant number of voters who wouldn't be able to vote, that just didn't transpire. In fact, it was a very orderly process. Very few people were in fact -- were not able to vote. And I think that it was a little bit of a surprise, I think, to all the sides how smoothly it did go.

José Cárdenas:
Now, you mentioned employer sanctions. You're referring to representative Pearce's bill?

Randy Pullen:
Yes. House bill 2779 which passed out of the house last week, and is now on to the senate. And not only did it pass, all 43 republicans voted for it but we also had 13 democrats who voted for it. So it was an overwhelmingly passed employer sanctions bill.

José Cárdenas:
Give us a brief overview as to what it would do.

Randy Pullen:
A brief overview of house bill 2779 would require employers to continue to do what they do now, which is complete an I-9 and turn it in as well as get the appropriate documentation from each employee. Beyond that, it would make them responsible for acknowledges in an affidavit that the people that are working for them are in fact citizens and are not here illegally. And it also puts in -- it's a class 6 felony the first time and it goes up from there on each subsequent -- each crime is imposed later on. So it essentially will put the focus of the employer on being serious about paying attention to who they're hiring. Which I think is a needed thing. It's been overwhelmingly shown by polls that have been done, numerous polls, that 80\% of Arizonans believe that employers play a role in the issue, in the problem of illegal immigration in terms of employment and that in fact they should be doing something about it.

José Cárdenas:
Now many of those employers, though, that we were talking about that are at least perceived to be part of this issue are republicans. What do you say to them?

Randy Pullen:
Well, what I say to them is that this is not only a broad-based state issue, it's a broad-based national issue. And in general, American citizens believe that employers should be held responsible if they're in fact knowingly hiring illegal aliens to work in their businesses.

José Cárdenas:
And you have other traditionally republican groups such as chambers of commerce saying that if this passes it will hurt Arizona competitively. What do you say to that?

Randy Pullen:
I think they're overstating the case. Just like they said we'd have tremendous problems with proposition 200 with regard to requiring ID to register to vote or ID at the polls, I think when it all settles out that, I'm an employer. I have a small business with employees working for me. I understand what the impact would be on my business. I think that I can comply with it very easily. I've talked to a number of hotel companies who are already following similar type procedures themselves in terms of identifying potential illegal aliens and checking their social security numbers with the basic pilot program, which is not being required incidentally from employers in Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
Let's switch topics a little bit and talk about the presidential elections. John McCain. Does he have the support of the Republican Party in Arizona?

Randy Pullen:
I think that -- let's just kind of put it in perspective. We're fortunate to have two good senators in Arizona, Senator Kyl and Senator McCain and they do a lot for Arizona. And of course, Senator McCain is one of the frontrunners for the presidential nomination for the Republican Party. Here in Arizona, the party is neutral as with respect to the candidates. And we think that we have a number of good candidates. And we think that at this point to commit to any one of them this early would probably not be a good thing for the Republican Party, since it's pretty much -- there is quite a bit of division as to who is being supported among the three major candidates here in Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
Any sense, though, for how senator McCain stacks up against the other two candidates you're referring to, I assume Romney and Giuliani?

Randy Pullen:
Oh, yeah. I think if an election were held today Senator McCain would probably win that election.

José Cárdenas:
Now, your election as chairman was somewhat controversial. Some thought you would be a dividing force in the party. It's been a few months now. What can you tell us about your priorities and what the reaction has been thus far?

Randy Pullen:
Well, I think first of all the Republican Party is united in Arizona. Any issue with respect to divisiveness is just rhetoric. Republicans are very good about this. They have elections. And once the election is over we go back to work doing what we need to do to get ready for the next election. And we are working. We dream big dreams here in Arizona about what we can do. And I think it's a very positive environment for the Republican Party right now. Clearly we lost some races last year. But we think that we have a huge opportunity to get those seats back this coming election cycle. And we're very focused on that and working very hard towards that. There's only 596 days left until the next election so not much time.

José Cárdenas:
I'm sure you'll be working every one of those 596 days. Randy Pullen, I'm sorry but we're out of time but we'll try to get you back to discuss this in more depth later. Randy Pullen, Chairman Arizona Republican Party thank you for joining us.

Randy Pullen:
Thank you José

José Cárdenas:
This Wednesday on Horizon we'll be speaking with Arizona Democratic Chairman David Waid.

José Cárdenas:
This day marks the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. It's a day laden with special meaning for those stationed at Luke air force base. This year is the 60th anniversary of the air force and air force week begins today at Luke. It will conclude this weekend with the Luke days air show. Larry Lemmons takes us to the west valley air force base for a visit.

David Orr:
50,000 hours over the valley of the sun. We are producing nearly 400 f-16 combat-ready fighter pilots who are ready to go to Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever our nation calls in the preservation of freedom.

Larry Lemmons:
Luke Air Force base has been known as home for the fighter pilots since the Second World War. Named after the first aviator to win the Medal of Honor, the base is represented by the 56th fighter wing, the air forces largest and one of the most decorated units in air force history.

David Orr:
We have history. And it's been consistent since 9/11. And in all of our past wars over the last 16-years of continued combat operations as f-16 pilots run the 56 fighter wing at Luke air force base doing great things in our wars. Our instructor pilot cadre are 80\% combat veterans over the last 16 years. So we select the most highly-qualified instructors to train these new future wingman in the f-16.

Larry Lemmons:
Various forms of training are undertaken at Luke. The most common is the seven months of intense instruction for new lieutenants fresh out of pilot school. Luke training involves six to eight weeks of academics, time in the simulator and different types of flying instructions. A typical flight lasts over an hour after which every detail of the mission is scrutinized. Students generally work 12 hours a day. But presumably the flight itself is the most anticipated part of that day.

David Orr:
If you were to come into duty about four hours prior to that generally, to mission plan, to be given sotrie, air-to-air, air to ground, transition. Two and a half hours prior sometimes two hours and fifteen minutes prior, somewhere in that range he does a briefing with his instructor pilot. They go through every detail administratively with how the sortie is going to work out, the sortie being the mission their going to fly, and then getting actually getting into the details of the tactical portion they're going to fly. A normal pre-flight and -- starting engines before takeoff and checklist is going to be probably 200 or 300 checklist items to do. We make sure all the switches are in place. When we get engine start we go through a long, detailed process of making sure the engine is good, our flight controls are good, hydraulic oil, you name it. Every part of that system is ready to go. The maintainers on the ground are dedicated crew chief on the ground and his assist, it could be a weapons specialist, an avionics specialist assisting the launch will take care of any details, too, as they walk around the plane. Each unit has a mascot or a saying that goes around with them so when that end of runway crew is saying you are good to go and they give a firm salute to the pilot, the pilot returns a salute and he is going to give that given mascot action. Whether it be strength and honor which is the 308 fighter squadron and it's a hatchet kind of maneuver with a sword-- or the spike bulldog who is ready to make a fight happen, those are the things you would see at the end of the runway.

David Orr:
So this brand-new lieutenant who goes through this seven month course, ends up graduating as a near mission ready pilot. He goes to his follow on assignment. Within a couple short months he could be in combat flying combat sorties in preservation of our nation's freedom.

Larry Lemmons:
Luke also trains maintenance specialists for the f-16 which is still the work horse of the air force. The base has tee employed 1300 airmen in the last two years to fight in various operations. The loss of personnel has put a strain on some units.

David Orr:
Talk about an unique mission of the fighter wing. A very very high operation. 160 sortees every day is a busy operation. We'll have our first launch at 7:00 in the morning and we'll go until midnight launching airplanes and recovering airplanes. So when, for instance, our civil engineers or our duty forces, for example, have half their active duty force here because all of their airmen are deployed. 50\% of them are deployed, it is a strain, no doubt. So they try to do more with less. They try to be efficient with their missions to support the 56 fighter wing. And we don't work around it at all. We just come to the realization that you got to find efficiencies in other ways. So in terms of the security forces we have a contract unit of professionals, many of them retired air force members and army soldiers, who man our gates, for instance. So to relieve the loss of 20 or 30 security forces defenders, we hire a contract unit that is very professional in their own rights to man the gates. So those are the kind of things we do.

Larry Lemmons:
The rapid growth of the west valley has also put pressure on the base.

David Orr:
The relationship with all of our surrounding communities is absolutely incredible. I mean, i told you i was a military brat. And in those days, the air force base was satisfied as far away as possible, for noise and everything, we were just put away. The community had no idea if it was an air force, army, navy unit, they didn't know what it was. Those days have all changed. Certainly in the past 16 years since Desert Shield and Desert Storm when we've been in continuous combat, the public is much more aware in a good way. The community, regardless of their politics, all the communities around Luke just enjoy having, in our case, air force airmen living in their communities. They appreciate the service of all armed forces members. And there is a patriotic fervor I think in our community. So when the development of the valley, and the valley of the sun which is such a great place 12 to live, we have that dill dilemma if you want to call it where commercial interests wanted to develop housing out this way. It's happening. It's happening all around the valley. But because of our great partnerships and the relationship we have with the surrounding communities we're doing it in a way that we call compatible land use. We're able to maintain the mission of the 56 fighter wing for now and through 15 or 20 years through legislation and partnerships with our great community to keep the mission completely viable, to be optimizing the training of the world's greatest fighter pilots. At the same time, having our cities and our surrounding neighborhoods able to flourish and develop as well.

Larry Lemmons:
The F-16 is due to be phased out by 2025. It will be replaced by the joint strike fighter, the F-35. One base, Egg Lund, is already slated to be a training wing for that aircraft. Luke could be one as well.

David Orr:
We would think based on our relationship with the surrounding communities, based on the great weather, based on our treasure, the Barry M. Goldwater Range, we would say sure Luke Air Force Base seems to be a perfect location to choose for the Joint-Strike Fighter.

Larry Lemmons:
Because of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan involve so many ground forces, the Air Force is anxious to point out the role it plays in support of those missions.

David Orr:
You might think if you're a normal community member, well, there's probably not a lot of flying going on there in Iraq. Oh, boy. The air force is heavily engaged. 25,000 air force members in Iraq, Afghanistan, nearly 8,000 Arizonans wearing Air Force blue uniforms serving the nation. Just an incredible thing.

Jose Cardenas:
Here now to talk more about the economic impact of Luke Air Force Base and its future, the former commander of the base, Brigadier General Tom Browning who is now retired. General Browning welcome to "Horizon."

Tom Browning:
Thank you Jose, glad to be here.

Jose Cardenas:
General, how close did we come to not being in a position to celebrate Luke Air Force Base? It was one of the bases, I assume, that was under consideration for closure a few years ago. You were involved in that process.

Tom Browning:
Right. Well, all of the bases in the U.S. Military were reviewed in terms of their capacity to be able to complete their mission and perform their mission over a long period of time. And they were graded and ranked and many discussions. There was a base closure commission appointed. Luke was considered under that process along with every other military installation in this country. Fortunately the state of Arizona has a long history of supporting the military installations. Legislation to support those things, local communities that enforce zoning regulations around the bases. So that Arizona was very well-prepared to be able to do that.

Jose Cardenas:
And you co-chaired the governor's commission on that.

Tom Browning:
Right. Governor Napolitano, that whole process was really on the very near horizon when Governor Napolitano was elected. So she asked me to be the part-time military advisor and the lion's share of that task was organized and then to co-chair for a task force to make sure we had a good strategy, not simply to satisfy the -- but for long-term preservation of all our military installations in Arizona.

Jose Cardenas:
How important is Luke Air Force Base to the Arizona economy?

Tom Browning:
In terms of the numbers, if you categorize it as Luke Air Force Base Inc., it has an annual economic impact of $1.4 billion. Direct employment, counting some civilians that work at the base, is somewhere in the neighborhood of 8500 people. And the people from Luke could give you the precise, current numbers. But that's a pretty close ball park.

Jose Cardenas:
So we're talking about three super bowls all in one year.

Tom Browning:
That's right. That's right. And I think there's a couple of important things to mention about the economic impact of Luke. One is that that new revenues, if you will, coming into the economy of the state of Arizona, not just for Luke but all the military installations, is very stable. So in spite of the fact that many segments of our economy take dramatic upturns and then downturns of the economy, that economic impact of the military installations is very stable. The other point to realize is the vast majority of individuals who live and work at Luke Air Force Base, military, live off base. And it's not simply Glendale, Peoria, Goodyear, Avondale. When I was the commander at Luke we had Luke personnel who lived in Mesa and Tempe. Contractors who contract work at Luke Air Force Base come from all over the state. So the economic impact of any one single installation, whether Luke, Davis Maupin, Marine Corps. Air Station in Yuma has a ripple and domino effect throughout the state. Those people who live here three-quarters at Luke buy homes in the local community, they pay sales tax, kids go to the local schools, so on and so forth. Those numbers I just quoted and what you hear quoted currently came out of a study by the McGuire Company in 2002. That was based on FY 2000 data. So those numbers are five years old. I'm happy to say the Legislature last year appropriated the money to update that study. They should be out later this year.

Jose Cardenas:
It will show even greater economic impact?

Tom Browning:
I believe it will.

Jose Cardenas:
General, one of the big issues last time around was the threat that encroachment development around the air base poses to the survival of Luke. Is that still a concern?

Tom Browning:
Absolutely. Encroachment, and by that we mean the building of the structures that are incompatible with aviation operations moving closer and closer to the base, is a threat to any installation, military or civilian, that flies airplanes. Airplanes are noisy. Sky Harbor Airport has difficulty with many of the same fundamental issues. Around the military base because the nature of military airplanes they tend to be a little more noisy than some of the civilian traffic, particularly the light airplane things. So it gathers a little more attention. But I will tell you that as I said earlier, the state through Legislation, through the support of the governor, local communities, zoning regulations and everything have been very supportive. But there are constant pressures on that. For one reason or another, about incompatible, primarily residential moving closer and closer to the base. So I don't think we can ever say that we're going to reach a day where we can declare victory on encroachment and forget about it. Because as soon as we do, land will be purchased or different ways to overcome zoning regulations in some cases. Next thing you know we start to have the problem due to encroachment. Look at the former Williams Air Force Base. It was the encroachment pressures that were largely responsible for the closure of Williams.

Jose Cardenas:
General we have about 30 seconds left. What can you tell us briefly about the bigger issues of the strain on the military posed by the war on terror? They say we have about 30 seconds.

Tom Browning:
The war on terror has put a huge strain on military forces. Primarily born by the Army and the U.S. Marine Corps. But the Air Force feels it as well. Luke has deployed over 2000 people and the most of those were in the support area.

Jose Cardenas:
We're going to have to leave it at that General Browning, thank you for joining us.

Tom Browning:
Thank you.

Merry Lucero:
The environment is the topic of discussion at the State Capitol as conservation organization members and state lawmakers come together to talk about environmentally-related legislation. Plus the benefits of walking for people over 50 are becoming more apparent with every step. That's Tuesday on "Horizon."

Jose Cardenas:
Wednesday an interview with satirist and author P. J. O'Rourke. Thursday a look at the Employer Sanctions Bill at the State Legislature. Friday don't forget to join us for the "Journalists Roundtable." I'm Jose Cardenas. That's the Monday edition of "Horizon." Thanks for joining us.

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