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WSU president, former general to lead effort protecting local bases

A retired four-star Air Force general and Wright State University’s president will serve as co-chairmen of a Dayton Development Coalition panel with a goal to protect two military installations in the region if another round of base closures happens.

Retired Gen. Lester Lyles, a former commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, and WSU President David R. Hopkins will lead the Wright-Patterson 2020 committee, coalition leader Jeff Hoagland announced Wednesday at a forum of about 120 people at Wright State.

The committee has five primary goals, which includes a federal retention program to protect jobs and missions at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Springfield Air National Guard Base and boost aerospace.

The Department of Defense has asked Congress to OK two new rounds of base closures in 2015 and 2017, although congressional leaders have not given indications they would support a round soon, according to observers.

Lyles was optimistic Wright-Patterson and the region would fare well in another Base Realignment and Closure round.

In the last BRAC round in 2005, the base gained 1,200 jobs, the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine and the 711th Human Performance Wing, among other missions.

“I think my number one recommendation would be don’t use the pejorative term BRAC,” he told reporters. “People think of realignment and they focus on the “c” aspect of BRAC, closure, and they fail to look at opportunities that are there. I think we need to come up with a new term that would focus people on looking at how can the community better communicate with the base, and how can the base communicate better with the community and industry, and look for leveraging opportunities.”

Hopkins said the region has built a new paradigm between government, industry and academia that’s boosted Wright-Patterson and created jobs.

“We’re engaging institutions all across the state of Ohio in support of the Wright-Patt mission,” he said.

But some have concerns Ohio’s largest single-site employer could be vulnerable to losing jobs or missions.

John W. McCance, president of McCance Consulting Group LLC, was concerned the Alabama congressional delegation would attempt to peel away jobs from the National Air and Space Intelligence Center to the Missile and Space Intelligence Center at the Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Hunstville, Ala. NASIC employs more than 3,000 military and civilian personnel at Wright-Patterson.

“It’s just something that we can’t take for granted,” he said. “There’s a long and historic love-hate relationship between the two communities, Huntsville and the Dayton area, in trying to protect their missions, and that’s understandable.”

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