New defense bills offer millions for Wright-Patterson construction

Senate bill passed Wednesday evening, and House passed its version Thursday

With the passage of the House of Representatives defense policy bill Thursday, legislation offering more than $24 million for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base projects is headed to President Biden’s desk for his signature.

The legislation also offers a 5.2% increase in basic pay for members of the military, the largest pay raise in over 20 years.

The House bill offers $19.5 million for the planning and design of a new Acquisition Management Complex at the base, a project the Senate also supported in its bill, which passed late Wednesday.

Both House and Senate bills direct the $19.5 million toward the “planning and design of Phase V of the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Acquisition Management complex that will allow several organizations to streamline operations,” Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office said.

The complex will be a 214,200-square-foot facility that will consolidate missions at Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) directorates and organizations, “streamlining and improving their efficiency,” his office said.

“This year’s military funding advances the role of Southwest Ohio in the broader national security mission,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said in a statement. “This legislation includes the largest pay increase for our troops in over two decades, easing the burden on military families.”

“With more than 50 high-priority acquisition programs at Wright-Patterson experiencing rapid growth, AFLCMC cannot meet projected acquisition goals for these weapons systems without a significant increase in administrative and secure usable space,” Brown’s office said. “This investment will help ensure Dayton’s AFLCMC is equipped to support Air Force operations for years to come.”

The Senate bill included $5 million to complete a Wright-Patterson Army Reserve Center. The U.S. Army Reserve is moving Dayton-area operations to newly constructed facilities on the base. The units moving to the base have about 280 reservists and full-time personnel serving, according to the Senate.

(A spokesman for Turner said the $5 million is an automatic cost overrun to finish a project Turner authorized and supported in fiscal year 2022.)

Current AFLCMC facilities at Wright-Patterson (where the center is headquartered) have been in poor shape, Turner and others have said.

“They’re in grave need of a new facility,” Turner said in an interview Thursday. “Their current building does not allow for expansion. And it’s not reflective of the great work that’s being done by the people in acquisition.”

In the end, an expanded complex for Wright-Patterson’s acquisition workforce will represent a more than $200 million development at Wright-Patterson, Turner said this summer.

The planning and design authorization of $19.5 million approved by both chambers will go toward that larger investment.

Wright-Patterson is home to Air Force Materiel Command as well as AFLCMC — both concerned with designing, acquiring and sustaining virtually all Air Force weapons systems, making Wright-Patterson crucial to Air Force research and logistics needs.

The Senate legislation also included an amendment from Brown which his office said allows the Secretary of the Air Force to use rapid acquisition and funding authority to develop “urgent or emergent technologies,” letting the Air Force better address challenges as they arise.

“This will allow the Air Force to quickly address our national security needs,” Brown’s office stated.

The final version of the bill authorizes $886 billion in defense spending, an increase of $28 billion over fiscal year 2023.

The legislation also expands reimbursements available to military spouses for relicensing or business costs when servicemembers transfer locations.

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