Marco Rubio: Time for the Air Force to end the deal allowing civil aviation at Homestead Air Reserve Base
Last week, US Sen. blond frameR-Fla., sent a letter to United States Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall urged him to stop considering a proposed Joint Use Agreement (JUA) to allow civil aviation operations Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB) a homesteadFla.
HARB has for years been the focus of interest groups looking to secure commercial passenger and cargo operations to expand the southern urban development frontier Miami Dade County. These proposals have the potential to impact military readiness and reduce efforts to conserve and restore critical habitats near HARB and Biscayne Bay.
The letter is below.
Dear Secretary Kendall,
I am writing to express my concern about a proposal under consideration to allow civil aviation operations at Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB) in Homestead, Florida. In particular, the civilian use of HARB carries the potential risk of impeding the ongoing restoration of the Everglades and threatens the base’s core mission. I hope that you will cease any consideration of the proposed Joint Use Agreement (JUA) that would allow civilian operations at HARB unless and until these concerns are adequately addressed.
Homestead was opened in 1942 and its strategic importance to the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR) was established during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Today, Homestead is home to the 482nd Fighter Wing, which supports operations for USSOUTHCOM, as well as a number of tenants including the Headquarters, Special Operations Command South, US Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Teaman air and sea unit of US Customs and Border Protection, as well as the most active NORAD Warning site in the continental US operated by the 125th Fighter Squadron, Florida Air National Guard. The civilian use of HARB endangers the operational security of the facility and could affect the ability to conduct missions essential to national security.
Besides opening the door to additional proposals that could threaten HARB’s mission, civil exploitation operations on the base would breathe life into misguided proposals to expand the Urban Development Boundary (UDB) north of the base to build one Amazon logistics center. The expansion of the UDB and the construction of a logistics facility at this site would be in conflict with ongoing efforts to restore the fresh water supply from the everglades to Biscayne Bay. especially the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water District are currently planning the Biscayne Bay and Restoring the Southern Everglades ecosystem (BBSEER) project, with preliminary proposals to channel water from western Miami Dade County through the C-102 Canal to the wetlands along Biscayne Bay. This project will improve South Florida’s resilience to storm surges and sea level rise by recharging the Biscayne Aquifer and restoring natural infrastructure such as wetlands and mangrove forests along the Bay’s shoreline. The resiliency benefits provided by BBSEER will also help protect HARB from hurricanes and storm surges.
The priority for the U.S. Air Force should be to protect and preserve its long-term capability to perform its core mission of supporting national defenses, and not take a path that would encourage Amazon, a multinational corporation that does not have national interests United States in mind. This would only allow them to expand their operations in ways that would hamper the Air Force’s mission, hamper Everglades recovery efforts, and reduce the resilience of HARB and the surrounding area to storm surges and sea level rise.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
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