LITTLE ROCK – Governor Asa Hutchinson today applauded the decision of Lieutenant General L. Scott Rice, Director of the Air National Guard, to base 15 firefighters at the Ebbing, ANG base in Fort Smith to provide 24-hour structural fire protection for Ebbing facilities. Championed by Senator John Boozman and Congressman Steve Womack since the 188th lost fire protection capabilities after the Wing’s primary mission changed from A-10s to remotely piloted aircraft in fall 2014, the decision will reinstate adequate fire protection capabilities at the 188th. Firefighters will begin working at Ebbing, ANG base as soon as they can be hired and properly trained.

Governor Hutchinson issued the following statement:

“I am delighted by Lieutenant General Rice’s decision to provide 15 firefighters to support Arkansas’s 188th Fighter Wing. This is great news for Fort Smith, and I applaud the diligence and leadership exhibited by Senator Boozman, Congressman Womack and Adjutant General Berry in working to resolve this critical issue. There’s no doubt this resolution will greatly improve the safety and emergency preparedness at the 188th.”

Senator Boozman issued the following statement:

“I am very appreciative to the U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah James, Chief of Staff General David Goldfein, Director of the Air National Guard Lieutenant General Rice and Arkansas National Guard Adjutant General Mark Berry for their persistence in helping the Arkansas delegation resolve this issue. The delegation, along with local and state officials, have been working for a long time to find a solution to this issue. Following countless meetings and discussions, I am pleased that we have now identified a path forward which preserves the 188th Wing’s long-admired presence in the Fort Smith community and addresses the concerns of the Fort Smith Regional Airport—both of which are vital to the community and our nation.”

Congressman Womack issued the following statement:

“I’m grateful to Lieutenant General Rice for his hard work to preserve the capabilities at the 188th Fighter Wing. The men and women of the 188th are performing some of the most important missions fighting terror around the globe, and this is not only a huge victory for them, but for City of Fort Smith and the entire state. As a member of the Defense Subcommittee on Appropriations, I’m honored to have a seat at the table when important decisions about the future of our military are made and am very appreciative to the rest of our delegation, specifically Senator Boozman, for their support of this solution.”

By Governor Asa Hutchinson