Ebbing ANGB (KFSM)
Fort Smith Municipal Airport
The 188th Fighter Wing (FW) of the Arkansas Air National Guard occupies 110 acres of leased land
on the Fort Smith Municipal Airport, located approximately 2 miles southeast of Fort Smith, Arkansas. The mission of the 188th FW is to execute directed fighter missions designed to destroy enemy forces, supplies, equipment, communications systems, and installations with all types of tactical weapons. The unit currently flies the F-16 Falcon. The 188th FW occupies 3 administrative, 46 industrial, and 3 services buildings totaling approximately 332,102 square feet with 320 full-time personnel. A unit training drill is conducted once a month and results in a surge of up to 1,000 personnel.
In 1937 a municipal airport advisory committee was appointed and 320 acres was set aside for a municipal airport. The land included the western portion of the present Fort Smith Municipal Airport southeast of the city. The airport hanger was constructed in 1941 by WPA labor as the airport grounds were developed. Sod landing strips were provided for Fort Smith air traffic at the first official Fort Smith airport. In 1944 and 1945, two airlines, Braniff and Mid Continent---proposed to the city that they would begin service here if runways were improved and a terminal were constructed. By early 1945 crews were busy building two asphalt runways 100 feet wide and 3,500 feet long. The 1947 additions provided total runway facilities of a north-south runway 4,115 feet long and an east-west runway 4,600 feet long. Both strips were 150 feet wide and the additions were completed in early 1949. A 1950 addition extended the east-west runway to a total length of 5,300 feet. By 1957 there were 18 city employees at the airport, and nearly 100 were employed in the various offices and the Air National Guard base nearby.
The FSM airport has two paved runways. The primary runway is Rwy 7/25, with a length of 8,000 feet and width of 150 feet. Runway 1/19 is the crosswind runway for 7/25 and is 5,002' x 150'.
Secretary of Defense Recommendation:
Realign Fort Smith Municipal Airport (MAP) Air Guard Station (AGS), AR. Distribute the 188th Fighter Wing's (ANG) F-16s to the 144th Fighter Wing (ANG) Fresno Air Terminal AGS, CA (seven aircraft) and retirement (eight aircraft). The 144th Fighter Wing's F-16s (15 aircraft) retire. The wing's expeditionary combat support (ECS) elements remain in place.
Firefighter positions realign to Tulsa, OK, and the Home Station Training Site moves to Savannah, GA. Realign Luke Air Force Base, AZ. The 56th Fighter Wing, Luke Air Force Base, AZ, distributes its F-16 Block 25s (13 aircraft) and F-16 Block 42s (24 aircraft) to retirement. The 944th Fighter Wing distributes its F-16s to the 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno (11 aircraft).
Secretary of Defense Justification: Military value played the predominant role coupled with homeland defense. The Air Force recommendation realigns 15
aircraft from Fort Smith (110) to Fresno (87), which supports the homeland defense Air Sovereignty Alert mission. Additionally, this recommendation helps align the eight different F-16 models across the Air Force. Finally, this recommendation makes experienced airmen available to support the new ANG flying training unit created at Little Rock Air Force Base, AR.
Community Concerns: The Fort Smith, AR, community disputed DoD's Mission Compatability Index (MCI) scores, claiming the Air Force's onesize-fits-all approach for both active and reserve bases creates a built-in bias favoring large-active-duty bases. It argued that in fact, Fort Smith is the most cost-efficient fighter wing in the Air National Guard. DoD's recommendations could adversely affect joint training opportunities, both at Fort Smith and nearby Fort Chafee. The community noted the recommendation undermines recruiting and retention. The loss of fighter interceptors for homeland defense is a major concern for one of the five fastest growing communities in the United States. The commercial airport authority and surrounding communities would lose significant civil support and emergency disaster relief services. It would cost $7.5 million initially, and at least $2 million annually thereafter, to replicate lost air rescue and airport firefighting services.
Commission Findings: The Commission found that the Department of Defense recommendation to realign Fort Smith Municipal Airport Air Guard Station and Luke Air Force Base was not cost effective. The Commission estimated a 20-year Net Present Value cost of $13.8 million and a payback in excess of 100 years for the recommendation. However, the Commission found that the
military value calculation for Fort Smith did not give proper credit to airspace, low level routes, and auxiliary airfields and nearby Fort Chaffee. The Commission agreed with the Secretary of Defense that the F-16s at Fort Smith should be withdrawn due to a shrinking inventory of this weapon system but found Fort Smith to be an ideal location for the A-10aircraft. No objections were found to the part of the recommendation related to Luke Air Force Base. The Commission found that this action is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Reserve Laydown plan.
This recommendation directing aircraft movement and personnel actions in connection with Air National Guard installations and organizations is designed to support the Future Total Force. The Commission expects that the Air Force will find new missions where needed, provide retraining opportunities, and take appropriate measures to limit possible adverse personnel impact. The Commission's intent is that the Air Force will act to assign sufficient aircrew and maintenance personnel to units gaining aircraft in accordance with current, established procedures. However, the Commission expects that all decisions with regard to manpower authorizations will be made in consultation with the governor of the state in which the affected Air National Guard unit is located. Any manpower changes must be made under existing authorities, and must be made consistent with existing limitations. Some reclassification of existing positions may be necessary, but should not be executed until the Air Force and the state have determined the future mission of the unit to preclude unnecessary personnel turbulence. This recommendation is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Laydown Plan.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from final selection criterion 1, as well as from the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission recommends the following:
Realign Fort Smith Municipal Airport (MAP) Air Guard Station (AGS), AR, and Luke Air Force Base, AZ. Distribute the 15 F-16 aircraft assigned to the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG) at Fort Smith Air Guard Station, AR, 37 F-16 aircraft assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, and the 15 F-16 aircraft assigned to the 144th Fighter Wing (ANG) at Fresno Air Terminal Air Guard Station, CA, to meet the Primary Aircraft Authorizations (PAA) requirements established by the Base Closure and Realignment recommendations of the Secretary of Defense, as amended by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission;
Establish 18 PAA A-10 aircraft at the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG), Fort Smith Air Guard Station, AR.
Establish 18 PAA F-16 aircraft at the 144th Fighter Wing (ANG), Fresno Air Terminal Air Guard Station, CA.
Establish a contiguous enclave for the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG) sufficient to support operations of that unit, including
flight operations, compatible with joint use of the Air Guard Station as a civilian airport. The Home Station Training Site
moves to Savannah, GA.
If the State of Arkansas decides to change the organization, composition and location of the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG) to
integrate the unit into the Future Total Force, all personnel allotted to the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG), including the unit's
Expeditionary Combat Support (ECS) elements, will remain in place and assume a mission relevant to the security interests
of the State of Arkansas and consistent with the integration of the unit into the Future Total Force, including but not
limited to air mobility, C4ISR, Information Operations, engineering, flight training or unmanned aerial vehicles. Where
appropriate, unit personnel will be retrained in skills relevant to the emerging mission. This recommendation does not effect
a change to the authorized end-strength of the Arkansas Air National Guard. The distribution of aircraft currently assigned
to the 188th Fighter Wing (ANG) is based upon a resource-constrained determination by the Department of Defense that
the aircraft concerned will better support national security requirements in other locations and is not conditioned upon the
agreement of the state.
The Commission found that this change and the recommendation as amended are consistent with the final selection criteria
and the Force Structure Plan. The full text of this and all Commission recommendations can be found in Appendix Q.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list