WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sens. Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, and U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce sent a letter to President Obama urging him to advocate for a mutually beneficial arrangement that will allow the German Air Force, Luftwaffe, to maintain a productive presence in the United States at Holloman Air Force Base Wednesday.
Due to increasing budget constraints, the Chief of Staff of the German Air Force has recommended consolidation of its two operational Tornado wings in Germany and to not renew the contract with Holloman Air Force Base.
The letter was sent in advance of the president's upcoming meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Secretary of Defense Ash Carter's meeting next week with German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
"The German Air Force Flying Training Center (GAFFTC) facilitates the important alliance between our two nations, creating unique and valuable opportunities for combined training opportunities between our two militaries," the lawmakers wrote. "New Mexico's weather, terrain, and exceptional airspace allow for more flight days per year than anywhere else in the world and have allowed the Germans to train in conditions they experience in today's conflicts. With the current threat environment, it is likely the United States and Germany will be engaged in similar conflicts for the foreseeable future."
The German Air Force has been training its aircrews in the United States since 1958. GAF training took place on various bases throughout the United States before moving its primary mission to Holloman Air Force Base in 1992. The mission of the German Air Force Flying Training Center at Holloman is to train future Tornado aircrews.
Since the arrival of GAF at Holloman there are 1,200 Germans, including their dependents, living in Alamogordo.
In 2013, the German Air Force Flying Center became the headquarters for the entire German Air Force Command in the Continental United States.
"The United States should encourage the Germans to continue to operate the GAFFTC at HAFB," the law makers wrote. "We therefore request that you work with Chancellor Merkel to find a mutually beneficial arrangement that will allow the German military to maintain a presence at Holloman Air Force Base during this 20 year anniversary and beyond."
Sens. Udall and Heinrich, and Rep. Pearce met with German Ambassador Peter Wittig last month to discuss the rationale behind the decision and to urge the Germans to retain their presence at Holloman.