New Davis-Monthan special operations wing earns cheers from Ariz. congressional delegation

Arizona United States Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly joined House counterparts Reps. Juan Ciscomani and Ruben Gallego to applaud the Air Force for establishing the new 492nd Special Forces Power Projection Wing at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The news comes after the trio penned a letter to the Secretary of the Air Force in April, encouraging the military to work closely with the Tucson community as they considered the future of Davis-Monthan.

In the letter, they said that the Air Force should work with congressional leaders and Tucson communities to “secure the long-term future of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and protect our national security.” The base is a natural candidate for expansion and modernization, they argued, because of “its very favorable year-round flying conditions and considerable range space to its proximity to leading defense industry partners.”

Several months later, the Air Force announced the establishment of the Special Forces Wing at Davis-Monthan, which will include OA-1K light attack and C-130 transport aircraft.

“These flying missions are critical to our military’s ability to outcompete our adversaries, and this decision is a positive step towards bringing them to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base that will enable the Air Force to proceed with the next set of site reviews to prepare the base for this transition. We’ll continue working alongside the Tucson community to secure the long-term future of DM,” said Sinema, Kelly, Gallego, and Ciscomani.

Community leaders have also spoken in support of the move. 

“We are very appreciative of the continued advocacy and support of the entire Arizona delegation as we work together to ensure the future of DM,” said Jay Bickley, president of DM50, a nonprofit organization that advocates for Davis-Monthan and the airmen who serve and have served on-base, 

Leaders in southern Arizona expressed concern that following the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the drawdown in the War on Terror, bases like Davis-Monthan would shrink in size and scope. This would endanger the defense ecosystem that has built up in southern Arizona for the last several decades. Companies small and large form that patchwork, including leading job creators like Raytheon and Honeywell.

“As our national defense posture evolves to a new region, this next mission ensures that Davis-Monthan – and all of Southern Arizona – continues to be critical to the testing, training, and operational readiness of our military,” said Robert Medler, president of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance.

Both versions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is currently making its way through Congress, include funding for the Air Force to continue ongoing site review and planning at Davis-Monthan.

Joe Pitts

Joe Pitts is a born and bred Arizonan who formerly served as the program director at the Arizona Chamber Foundation. He graduated Arizona State University's Barrett, the Honors College in 2023 with a B.S. in Management and concurrent B.S. in Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

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