WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said Wednesday that he would fight to protect the 188th Fighter Wing from potential budget cuts that the Pentagon may contemplate.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) said Wednesday that he would fight to protect the 188th Fighter Wing from potential budget cuts that the Pentagon may contemplate.

The failure of a deficit reduction committee last week to strike a deal has triggered potential military cuts of $660 billion over the next decade.

Those cuts, if they do occur, won’t begin until 2013 and for now are simply conjecture, Womack said. But, Fort Smith was on a base-closing list before and therefore may be a likely target, he said.

“The program was under pressure before, so it makes sense that it could be under pressure again,” said Womack, R-Rogers.

The Air Force kept the fighters at Fort Smith then because it offered the “best value” given the close proximity of Fort Chaffee, where training exercises take place, he said.

“We think that argument is still solid,” Womack said.

Maj. Gen. William D. Wofford, adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard, met with Womack on Tuesday to discuss the budget concerns.

Wofford was in town for two days of Pentagon meetings regarding future Guard deployments, according to a spokesman for the Arkansas National Guard. The 188th, deployed to Afghanistan in March 2010, is slated for another Air Expeditionary Forces rotation to Afghanistan next year.