It is too heavy for most people to pick up and pose with, but the members of the Sherwood Chamber of Commerce were happy Aug. 2 to see the Abilene Trophy when the chamber held its regular August luncheon at The Greens at North Hills.
Col. Brian Robinson of the Little Rock Air Force Base was the guest speaker and brought the heavy trophy that depicts a soaring eagle.
The Abilene Trophy is the Air Mobility Command’s community support award and is presented annually to a civilian community for outstanding support to a military base. The winner is determined by a selection group from the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee in Texas with final approval from Air Mobility Command officials.
The 260-member community council of the Little Rock Air Force Base won the distinction in both 2011 and 2009. In 2010, The Pope Air Force Base Council in North Carolina earned the award.
"This award represents the level of support the Little Rock Air Force Base receives from the entire community," Robinson said. "To win this two out of the last three years is quite a statement."
He added, "This trophy epitomizes the role that the community plays in the Little Rock Air Force Base and we appreciate the support."
In other business, Robinson updated chamber members about upcoming budgetary cuts planned in Washington, D.C.,by the Air Force.
"The size of the national debt is a threat to national security and we have to do our part to deal with the deficit," Robinson said.
The Air Force has been told it is to cut $487 billion from its annual budget from the years 2013-18, Robinson said.
Robinson said the national government is calling on the military to cut expenses while not compromising national security or the safety of U.S. troops.
"We do not want to have a hollow force," Robinson said. "We want to make changes but preserve capability."
The American military has found itself in extended missions and places of combat more today than in past generations.
Following the 1991 campaign of Desert Storm in Iraq, American troops were stationed in Asia and have been there ever since.
"They have been there 22 years now," Robinson said.
American troops also have been stationed in Afghanistan since 2001, now approaching the 11-year mark.
"Today’s military with extended conflicts is much more different than our father’s military," he said.
The volunteer force is also about half the size as it was during Operation Desert Storm in the early 1990s.
While cutbacks are planned, the Little Rock Air Force Base is projecting to see that its personnel will grow about 6 percent in the future.