The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Opinion

April 10, 2014

Other Views: Military report on target

— Missouri state officials deserve credit for realizing more needs to be done, and soon, to secure and perhaps expand our federal investments supporting the military.

Gov. Jay Nixon recognized this in remarks in January, citing total U.S. Department of Defense spending in Missouri at nearly $15 billion annually. Treasurer Clint Zweifel echoed this last week with release of a report finding this federal outlay multiplies into $40 billion in economic activity each year and more than 275,000 jobs.

After grasping the importance, then comes the sense of urgency. It does not require an extensive study to find other states where military personnel and the investments they represent are given greater priority on the public’s agenda.

 Nixon tasked  Zweifel with making a quick but thorough examination of the current state of support for the military in Missouri. In his recent report, Zweifel provided evidence in 16 recommendations that even a whirlwind fact-finding effort can shed insights. As in:

• The state should be more purposeful, from the governor’s office on down, in supporting and seeking to grow our military investments.

This includes an effort to develop partnerships with military communities, and a related initiative to foster creation of local community organizations that can provide consistent, knowledgeable support for installations and their personnel. It also includes a stated interest in coordinating targeted economic development efforts around military installations.

• The state should strive to understand the specific challenges and opportunities for our military installations and the Missouri National Guard.

Nowhere is this more important than the Air National Guard base at Rosecrans Memorial Airport in St. Joseph. Zweifel’s report correctly identifies the Missouri River levee system, which is largely maintained by the federal government, as a major issue locally and for the military installation.

“The state should work quickly with community leaders in the area and federal officials to organize a plan of action to address the future of the levee,” the report says.

This is a vital recommendation in tune with local realities and the national interest in supporting Air Guard operations that meet the tactical training needs of 20 allied nations.

 — St. Joseph News-Press

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