Believing that the voices of those who support bringing the F-35 to Eglin AFB, Fla., are being drowned out by those opposed to it, the Economic Development Council of Okaloosa County has launched a pro-F-35 campaign. The Northwest Florida Daily News reported March 1 that the council has begun a mass e-mail effort that asks local residents to participate in an online “quick poll” at the Web site of Rep. Jeff Miller (R), the Congressman for the Eglin area, to see if they are in favor of the decision to locate a primary F-35 schoolhouse at Eglin. So far, Miller’s site shows that the response has been overwhelmingly favorable. The EDC is also circulating a summary of the US military’s overall economic impact on the county and the benefits of the F-35 coming to Eglin, according to the newspaper. While Paul Hsu, EDC chairman, said he sympathizes with the concerns of Valparaiso residents over the F-35’s noise levels, he thinks the lawsuit that the city intends to file (see above) “will restrict the Air Force’s ability to address these concerns.” The Air Force, Hsu said, has already noted Valparaiso’s worries in its decision to conduct a supplemental environmental impact study.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.