Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning. Sign Up

Jake Proctor: Taking stock of Alabama’s military presence

By Jake Proctor

This Memorial Day – as everyday should – provided America the time to pause, reflect, and be thankful for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, so we can enjoy the freedoms of living in the United States. As Alabamians, Memorial Day also provides a special reminder of all the military members from our state who laid down their lives to preserve our republic and way of life.

However, remembering is not enough. As citizens of the United States and the state of Alabama, we owe a higher debt than only remembering those who died for our country. We must continually act to ensure their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of those currently serving our nation, is repaid with generosity and concrete, unwavering initiatives to ensure Alabama continues to be the most military friendly state in the country.

As you probably already know, Alabama has a proud heritage of military service and is home to some of our nation’s military and national security crown jewels. 

Beginning with Redstone Arsenal in North Alabama’s Huntsville to Birmingham’s 117th Air Refueling Wing and the Anniston Army Depot. Down to Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base in Montgomery, and further south to the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Novosel (formerly Fort Rucker). Further south to the Coast Guard Aviation Training Center and bustling shipbuilding industry of Mobile, Alabama pulls well above its weight for our national defense.

The location of these critical military missions in Alabama is not a coincidence or the result of pure luck. Our state’s military and national security pedigree is the result of decades of tireless, consistent, and focused advocacy and commitment by Alabama’s state, federal, and local leaders, and critical institutions such as the Alabama Military Stability Commission and its operational arm, the Alabama Military Stability Foundation.

In 2011, after suffering deep cuts to its military footprint during a Department of Defense Base Realignment and Closure round, the State of Alabama established the Commission and Foundation to protect and expand the military installations and missions in the state. Led by Lieutenant Governor Will Ainsworth and other senior state officials, the Alabama Military Stability Commission provides leadership and coordination for efforts to support Alabama’s military footprint.

A private, non-profit organization, the Alabama Military Stability Foundation is the operational arm of the Commission, providing studies, advocacy, policy advice, funding grants, and other resources to Alabama’s leaders and defense communities. The Foundation is led by a six-member Board of Directors appointed from each of Alabama’s heavily concentrated defense regions (Huntsville, Birmingham/Anniston, Montgomery, the Wiregrass Region, and Mobile), and it provides a critical link between the state and federal leadership and the communities it supports.

The Foundation also provides resources to Alabama military families through the Military Family Liaison, Jen Holliday. In this role, Jen leads the Heroes Welcome Initiative, which works with Alabama military families to ensure a smooth transition into the state’s military communities.

As the Foundation’s new Executive Director, I am honored, humbled, and extremely eager to get to work with the Lieutenant Governor, Commission, Board of Directors, and military communities to continue their strong track record of protecting and serving Alabama military members and missions. Filling the shoes of my predecessor, Robert La Branche, will be a near impossible task. Robert has had, and continues to have, an immeasurable impact on the military posture of our state, and we should all be grateful for the work he and the state have accomplished over the last five years.

As the ongoing, politically charged US Space Command basing decision has highlighted, the mission of the Commission and Foundation is as important today as it was in 2011. The continued dominance of Alabama’s military communities and missions depend on continued and new initiatives to solidify  our military missions, and the Commission and Foundation are critical enablers of those efforts.

As a nation, we face many military and security challenges that will require our military, communities, and defense industry’s A-Game in the years to come. The war in Ukraine reminds us of the fragility of international order. China’s military and economic rise threatens America’s military supremacy on the world stage, but also threatens our economic and personal security on the home front. There is also a laundry list of other enemies, including terrorist groups, Iran, North Korea, and others, continue to rear their head around the globe. These are great challenges, requiring equally great leaders, solutions, and military members and communities to confront them head on.

The good news for Alabama is this: our state has always risen to meet our nation’s challenges, and we are well positioned to do so today and into the future.

 At the state level, our Governor, Lieutenant Governor, state legislature, and other state leaders have demonstrated the desire and willingness to support the cause. Through the leadership of Lieutenant Governor Ainsworth and other members of the Commission and Foundation, the State of Alabama has passed legislation on an annual basis to ensure Alabama is the most military-friendly state in the country, as well as provide incentives for both the military and private sector to invest heavily in our state.

At the federal level, our congressional delegation holds key committee assignments – including the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and several other members of the Armed Services and Appropriations Committees in the House and Senate. This has allowed the delegation to ensure a constant flow of federal dollars and missions to the state.

Finally, and most importantly, our military communities and local leaders continue to find every mechanism to provide military servicemembers and civilians with a high quality of life, low cost of living, and family-friendly environments to grow and thrive. Without their critical support and dedication to honoring military members and veterans, no amount of dollars or legislation would be sufficient to continue Alabama’s outsized support for our nation’s defense.

The Commission, Foundation, and state, local, and federal leaders continue to rise  to meet these challenges, and I am confident that our coordinated and combined efforts will be more than sufficient to achieve the tasks ahead. And as we do so, we ask for your prayers, support, and commitment to ensuring we preserve the legacy and seek to match the sacrifice of those serving our state and country and particularly those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

To learn more about the mission and leadership of the Commission, Foundation, and Heroes Welcome Initiative, please visit https://www.almsf.org and https://www.heroeswelcome.alabama.gov/. If you have ideas in support of our mission or are a servicemember or spouse in need of support during your transition or tenure in the state, please contact us as we would be honored to engage and support you.

 

Jake Proctor is the Executive Director of the Alabama Military Stability Foundation and the Director of Strategy and Growth at Parry Labs, a small business defense technology company in Huntsville. Jake previously served as a military policy staffer in the Alabama congressional delegation, intelligence officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other positions in the government and private sector. He can be contacted directly at [email protected] or though the Foundation’s website at almsf.org.

Get the Daily News Digest in your inbox each morning.

Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Web Development By Infomedia