Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is “an enduring base” and “a crown jewel” that could score gains bigger than the 1,200 jobs and $330 million in new construction that the last round of base closures brought. But another round brings risks, too, Dayton Development Coalition leaders said.
Coalition leaders outlined a Base Realignment and Closure Commission strategy in a forum Wednesday at Sinclair Community College. The strategy will come into play should Congress authorize military base closures and mission realignment rounds in 2015 and 2017.
States and communities across the country have geared up to both protect and gain jobs and fight for bases across the country in a high-stakes competition.
“Arguably, there is nothing more important than this issue,” said Steven Johnson, Sinclair Community College president told attendees. “It’s absolutely the core and foundation of our economy.”
Based on past BRAC rounds, Coalition leaders said Springfield Air National Guard Base, the Air Force Institute of Technology, an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Business and Enterprise Directorate and Air Force Material Command logistics and operations staff could be at risk for reductions or closure.
“Those are the places we’re looking to defend,” said Joe Zeis, coalition executive vice president and chief strategic officer.
Other Wright-Patterson installations and missions could be a magnet for growth, Zeis said. Among them: The National Air and Space Intelligence Center; the base’s strategic runway with space to accommodate new squadrons; Air Force Research Laboratory activities and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center could be a draw to expand the industrial base.
Congress did not act on a Department of Defense request last year for BRAC rounds in 2013 and 2015, but the Pentagon is expected to ask for rounds in 2015 and 2017 as defense spending declines and the size of forces shrink.
“We can’t take anything for granted,” said Maurice “Mo” McDonald, Coalition vice president of military affairs. “We must assume anything is vulnerable. We consider any mission at Wright-Patt at risk.”
Community involvement to protect federal installations “makes the difference in the BRAC process,” he said.
The Coalition aims to defend not only Wright-Patterson and the Springfield Air National Guard Base but has launched a federal retention initiative to help Ohio communities protect places such as NASA’s Glenn Research Center near Cleveland and the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, which produces tanks.
Once the Pentagon has made the recommendations it’s “extremely difficult and requires a long-term effort” to reverse the outcome, said Michael Gessel, coalition vice president of federal programs in Washington, D.C.