Some of the nation’s top intelligence leaders started briefings and tours at an unprecedented Wright-Patterson Air Force Base retreat Thursday evening, a gathering that continues Friday.
Drawn by an invitation from Dayton congressman Mike Turner, CIA Director William Burns, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, National Security Director Gen. Paul Nakasone and more than half of the members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — which Turner leads as chairman — will visit or are visiting Wright-Patterson, one of the nation’s most important Air Force bases.
There, participants will discuss intelligence and strategic planning. Turner said Thursday afternoon he had already met with Burns and others, including Avril Haines, director of national intelligence. Briefings had been held with Kendall and Nakasone as well.
“We’ll be doing a lot of discussions about what are our plans for the future, what do we need to be doing,” Turner said. “We’re going to be working on the intelligence authorization bill for this year, some of those discussions happenning right here will go into the elements of drafting that bill.”
Wright-Patterson is home to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) and the National Space Intelligence Center (NSIC). Those intelligence-gathering missions feed information to other crucial Air Force missions, such as the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Materiel Command — also headquartered at Wright-Patterson — positioning them to prepare the nation to deal with emerging threats, as Turner described their roles in a press conference Thursday.
Intelligence gathered at Wright-Patterson is “translated directly into research at the Air Force Research Lab and then from that, acquisition programs are directed right here at the (Air Force) Life Cycle Management Center,” Turner, a Dayton Republican, said at a National Aviation Hall of Fame briefing. “So to have all three co-located — the intelligence-gathering, the research labs and the acquisitions, right here at one base — it really means it’s a seamless hand-off, so we can protect our country.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, the intelligence committee’s ranking member and a Connecticut Democrat, praised the men and women serving at Wright-Patterson, noting that some of them can’t talk about their jobs in detail.
“The chairman and I care very deeply about the people, again, whose work will never be celebrated, because they can’t be,” Himes said.
“There’s a lot of sensitive stuff that happens here,” he added. “It is just always amazing to meet those people who are quite happy to serve the United States, even though they are never going to be publicly and properly thanked for doing so.”
Himes has praised Turner for working to change the culture of the intelligence committee.
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