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Partnerships may help keep DM open

Posted at 6:39 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 20:39:43-05
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The people at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base pump about $1.4 billion into the local economy.  
Now the base and local leaders have signed a series of agreements designed to help keep the base open.
The agreements spell out the sort of local partnerships the Pentagon likes to see when it's deciding which bases to keep open and which ones to close.
As the Pentagon considers closing bases to save money, budget cutters consider what a community can do to make the base stronger.
That's why military and civilian leaders sign several agreements Monday.
UA President Ann Weaver Hart signed agreements so the University will help with land use planning for safer fly-over zones.
The University will also help with language training.  Crews on EC-130 aircraft need that to understand the electronic intelligence they collect.
Base commander Colonel James Meger says the civilian community can make his airmen more effective.
"When I look at the University of Arizona, when I look at Pima Community College and bringing that intellectual capital in and to continue to grow and expand my airmen's pool and expand the students' pool as well and grow together."
A collection of historic aircraft at DM includes an A-7, an example of the plane that was at the heart of the Davis-Monthan mission back in the 1970s. The A-10 replaced the A-7 here but now the A-10's long term future is in doubt and local civilian leaders are eager to find a new mission for the base to keep it open and active.
The Air Force says one new mission may be home base for drone pilots as drone use expands.
That's separate from these agreements which cover things like communication upgrades so Air Force and civilian first responders can talk to each other in an emergency.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild says the Air Force favors bases with strong community connections.
"When I met with the Secretary of the Air Force several months ago.  She indicated to me that the primary criteria for determining what bases would see more activity were community based partnerships."
And the groups that developed these agreements are working on many more.