Montgomery Chamber hires VP of Military Affairs ahead arrival of F-35

Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 5:35 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce has hired a vice president of military affairs. It comes at a pivotal time for the Capital City as there are lots of changes happening at Maxwell Air Force Base and the Alabama National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing.

Scott Rizer joined the Montgomery chamber on July 18th in the new role. He will be responsible for maintaining and improving the relationship between the military and the community.

Rizer has been on the job for about a month but has been in Montgomery for the last six years. He just retired about two months ago from the Air Force where he served at the Air War College as a seminar director and Department of Strategy instructor.

The hire comes at a crucial time for Montgomery’s military community, as the city prepares for the arrival of the new F-35 fighter jet at Dannelly Field, and the MH-139 helicopter at the 908th Air Lift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base. It’s Riser’s job to help make sure these new missions are moving Montgomery forward.

“We want to do the things that we can to defend our current missions and to make us ready,” Rizer said. “Whether that’s through legislation or funding so that we’re ready for future expansion, but we also have to make sure that this is a welcoming environment for Air Force personnel and families, and that we address the quality of life issues and concerns,” Rizer said.

Both the F-35 and the MH-139 will begin to arrive in Montgomery in 2023. Both aircraft are expected to bring hundreds of jobs to the river region. A lot of preparation has to happen before then.

“Anytime you bring a new mission, there is new requirements,” Rizer said. “If you look at all of the infrastructure that is existing for those units, the 187th and the 908th, some of it can be used perfectly well for the new mission, some of it will require investment, and adaptation and change.”

There has also been a change in leadership at the National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing. After just over a year on the job, leadership lost their trust in Col. Douglas DeMaio’s ability to command. He has been replaced by Col. Brian Vaughn who took over command in early August.

Rizer assures the change in leadership will have no impact on the transition to the F-35.

“I can’t imagine that this will have an impact at all,” Rizer said. “I know that the 187th is in great hands.”

Rizer says his focus is on making sure the Department of Defense knows the River Region is ready for the economic impact these aircraft will bring.

“They are all very forward-looking and (are) really taking the air force into the future,” Rizer said about the addition of the new aircraft.

The 187th Fighter Wing is just one of two bases in the country to be selected as an Air National Guard F-35A Lightening II location. Also selected as a location for the jets was Truax Field in Wisconsin.

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