March 02, 2016

Udall, Heinrich, Pearce: Keep German Air Force Presence at Holloman Air Force Base

WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich and U.S. Representative Steve Pearce sent a letter to President Obama urging him to advocate for a mutually beneficial arrangement that will allow the German Air Force, "Luftwaffe," to maintain a productive presence in the United States at Holloman Air Force Base.

Due to increasing budget constraints, the Chief of Staff of the German Air Force has recommended consolidation of its two operational Tornado wings in Germany and to not renew the contract with Holloman Air Force Base. The letter was sent in advance of the president's upcoming meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's meeting next week with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

"The German Air Force Flying Training Center (GAFFTC) facilitates the important alliance between our two nations, creating unique and valuable opportunities for combined training opportunities between our two militaries," the lawmakers wrote. "New Mexico's weather, terrain, and exceptional airspace allow for more flight days per year than anywhere else in the world and have allowed the Germans to train in conditions they experience in today's conflicts. With the current threat environment, it is likely the United States and Germany will be engaged in similar conflicts for the foreseeable future."

The lawmakers continued, "The United States should encourage the Germans to continue to operate the GAFFTC at HAFB. We therefore request that you work with Chancellor Merkel to find a mutually beneficial arrangement that will allow the German military to maintain a presence at Holloman Air Force Base during this 20 year anniversary and beyond."

Senators Udall and Heinrich and Representative Pearce met with German Ambassador Peter Wittig last month to discuss the rationale behind the decision and to urge the Germans to retain their presence at Holloman.

The full text of the letter is below and as a PDF here.

March 2, 2016

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama:

In advance of your upcoming meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's meeting next week with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, we urge you to advocate for a mutually beneficial arrangement that will allow the German Air Force (GAF), "Luftwaffe," to maintain a productive presence in the United States at Holloman Air Force Base (HAFB).

Due to increasing budget constraints, it is our understanding that the Chief of Staff of the German Air Force has recommended consolidation of its two operational Tornado wings in Germany and to not renew the contract with HAFB. The decision on how to proceed rests with the German Ministry of Defense and must be reported to the United States this calendar year under the terms of the existing contract that expires at the end of 2019.

The German Air Force Flying Training Center (GAFFTC) facilitates the important alliance between our two nations, creating unique and valuable opportunities for combined training opportunities between our two militaries. New Mexico's weather, terrain, and exceptional airspace allow for more flight days per year than anywhere else in the world and have allowed the Germans to train in conditions they experience in today's conflicts. With the current threat environment, it is likely the United States and Germany will be engaged in similar conflicts for the foreseeable future.

The United States maintains a significant military presence in Germany, with tens of thousands of personnel and multiple military installations, which serve to provide security to Germany and all of our NATO allies. As you know, our NATO allies have committed to spending 2% of Gross Domestic Product on defense expenditures, and the continued German presence at HAFB is an important part of their ongoing effort to meet that responsibility.

In addition, the Germans have built and maintained a terrific relationship with the community of Alamogordo over the past 20 years. Our New Mexican families are eager to support their continued presence. With approximately 500 military members and close to 1,000 family members in the Alamogordo area, the Germans have established schools, churches, and eateries in the community, based on their expectation of a long-term presence.

The United States should encourage the Germans to continue to operate the GAFFTC at HAFB. We therefore request that you work with Chancellor Merkel to find a mutually beneficial arrangement that will allow the German military to maintain a presence at Holloman Air Force Base during this 20 year anniversary and beyond.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Tom Udall
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
U.S. Representative Steve Pearce