Meanwhile, a privately funded effort announces completion of a second section of border wall.
MIRAMAR BEACH — While there has been some indication of the impact of switching some federal defense funding to the ongoing construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, it’s still not completely clear how or even if that transfer will affect installations across Northwest Florida.
Earlier this month, the Trump administration notified Congress of its plans to divert $3.8 billion from the current Department of Defense budget to construction of the border wall.
Broadly, the administration plan shifts $2.2 billion from the defense budget, and $1.6 billion from the DoD’s overseas contingency operations budget — funding beyond the military’s basic peacetime needs — to the border wall.
ALSO: Trump plans to divert additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funds for border wall
A recent inquiry to the office of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz whose district includes Eglin Air Force Base, Hurlburt Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola and a number of other installations, did not produce any definitive information on how the transfer of funds might affect local installations.
In the meantime, though, media reports have indicated where the money transferred to the border wall could impact the U.S. military. For instance, the Air Force stands to lose funding for four of eight C-130J aircraft, although those gunships reportedly were bound for Air Force Reserve and National Guard units rather than active-duty units.
Also on the chopping block for the Air Force are eight MQ-9 Reaper drones, the vast majority of the 12 MQ-9 Reaper drones in the current defense budget. Locally, Tyndall Air Force Base is slated to host an MQ-9 squadron at some point in its future as it is rebuilt from 2018’s devastating Hurricane Michael.
ALSO: Border wall could cost Eglin $63M (2019)
Also, $156 million in procurement funding for the F-35A fifth-generation stealth fighter jet would be diverted to the border wall. Eglin serves as a pilot and maintenance training location for the F-35.
Additionally, $180 million in funding for light-attack aircraft would come out of the Air Force budget under the plan to switch funding to the border wall.
In a recent announcement on basing decisions by Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett, Gaetz’s office noted that Hurlburt Field is slated to get three to five A-29 Super Tucano light-attack aircraft, while Duke Field is slated to receive some light ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) aircraft.
ALSO: Homeland Security waives contracting laws for border wall
Also, according to media reports, the Army would lose $100 million in vehicle funding, and the Navy would lose $650 million in procurement funding for an amphibious assault ship under the funds-shifting plan.
Meanwhile, as the Trump administration assembles money for border wall expansion, a private wall construction effort led by a local wounded warrior has announced completion of a second section of wall in Mission, Texas.
The announcement came Monday via Twitter from Brian Kolfage, a retired Air Force airman who lost both legs and an arm in a 2004 rocket attack on an air base in Iraq. Kolfage heads the nonprofit We Build The Wall Inc., which began in late 2018 as an online GoFundMe fundraising effort to raise $1 billion to assist the federal government with wall construction.
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Within a couple of months, as fundraising fell far short of the $1 billion goal, Kolfage switched the aim to privately funded border wall construction and created the nonprofit organization. We Build The Wall Inc. completed its first section of wall — a nearly mile-long barrier in Sunland Park, New Mexico — in June at a cost of around $7 million.
"This is how we secure America," Kolfage tweeted Monday regarding completion of the Mission, Texas, project. "3.5 miles of privitized (sic) wall funded by American Patriots without any government assistance. Project 3 is on deck! Will be HUGE!!"
Kolfage did not return a Friday telephone call seeking comment on the new section of the wall.
RELATED: Private border wall project proceeding
Meanwhile, the nonprofit’s website, https://webuildthewall.us/ was promising that construction of a fourth section of the wall also is in the works. However, a half-hour video on the website promising an "Important Update About Where We Go From Here" offered little more than a tour of the just-completed section of the wall and a plea for additional donations.
Another video, "Project #4 is Going To Be HUGE!" offered only video of what purports to be illegal aliens crossing into the United States, accompanied by the plea, "We Need $60 from 100,000 people to close this major smuggling route. You can make the difference."
Also, as We Build The Wall is continuing its fundraising efforts, the head of the contracting firm that built both sections of the wall appears to be distancing himself from the nonprofit group.
RELATED: Private construction of border wall could begin in 3-5 months
Tommy Fisher, president of North Dakota-headquartered Fisher Industries, recently told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette that We Build The Wall Inc. had "contributed only $1.5 million of the $42 million for the Texas fence ... ."
Fisher went on to tell the newspaper he has purchased land along an additional 100 miles of border, where he hopes to build additional fencing for lease to the federal government.
We Build The Wall Inc. is not involved in any of those ventures, Fisher told the newspaper. A Friday attempt to contact Fisher through the company’s main office for additional comment was unsuccessful.
This is how we secure America. 3.5 miles of privitized wall funded by American Patriots without any government assistance. Project 3 is on deck! Will be HUGE!!@charliekirk11 @DonaldJTrumpJr @RyanAFournier @DeplorableChoir @JackPosobiec @SydneyHdzTV @EpochTimes @Jim_Jordan pic.twitter.com/3GPOVmRwjf— Brian Kolfage (@BrianKolfage) February 18, 2020
Tommy Fisher on border wall prototype: "Ours is a wall, not a see-through fence. It's a actual wall. It's 30 feet tall, 30 inches thick of concrete and it will work." pic.twitter.com/C9nXqiDsDL— Fox News (@FoxNews) April 3, 2018
ALSO: Local wounded warrior changes focus on GoFundMe border wall initiative (2019)
On its website, We Build The Wall Inc. has claimed consistently for months that $25 million has been raised and pledged for the private wall construction effort, that 100 miles of fence are "ready to be built," and that 500,000 people have donated to the effort.
We Build The Wall Inc. has not yet filed an Internal Revenue Service Form 990, an annual report that collects information about the mission, programs and finances of tax-exempt organizations. The nonprofit’s initial Form 990 is not due until May.