“Offutt Scored Highest”

So states Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) in an April 3 statement, expressing his concern with USAF’s announcement that Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and not Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska is the service’s preferred location to host the new Air Force Global Strike Command. According to an Omaha World-Herald report, Offutt received 89 out of a possible 100 points in the Air Force evaluation, while Barksdale received 81. Nelson and fellow lawmakers Sen. Mike Johanns (R) and Rep. Lee Terry (R) are pressing DOD and Air Force officials for a turnaround. Nelson and Johanns have sent letters to both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, asking for explanations. Johanns expressed dismay that when Donley called him with the news he failed to tell him that Offutt had scored higher, telling the newspaper, “I just don’t feel he was candid with me.” In an April 3 statement, Johanns called the Barksdale decision “outrageous” and wants it overturned. In his letter to Gates, Nelson asked him to investigate whether “political considerations” had a role, referring to comments attributed to Terry in an earlier World-Herald report. Nelson said in his statement, “There is a clear contradiction between the scores levied upon Offutt, Barksdale, and the other finalist bases—in which Offutt scored highest—and the decision to locate Global Strike Command at Barksdale.”