WPAFB will play role in major changes coming to U.S. Air Force

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Aggressive plans to make the U.S. Air Force competitive with foreign militaries and produce mission ready airmen could create opportunities for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton said.

Turner, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in an interview with the Dayton Daily News Monday that indications he’s received from Air Force top brass are that changes being discussed will not come at the expense of major programs at WPAFB.

“I spoke with the chief of staff of the Air Force, Gen. (David) Allvin,” Turner said. “Gen. Allvin gave me absolute assurances that these changes would have no negative impact on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and could result in a positive impact on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”

Turner emphasized that the changes being discussed are meant to help the U.S. keep up with foreign adversaries such as Russia and China, they are not part of a much-dreaded Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.

“This is not a BRAC,” Turner said.

It’s too soon to tell what exactly the reorganization will mean for WPAFB, Dayton Development Coalition leaders said. But Dayton Development Coalition (DDC) president CEO Jeff Hoagland said the reoptimization is a way for Air Force leaders to refocus their efforts and increase efficiency.

“We’re staying very involved with the Department of the Air Force in the Air and Space Force,” said Hoagland. “We stay engaged with them. We talk to them all the time. We’re very interested to hear what’s next and how we can work together to make this the best for our country.”

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall this month announced two dozen changes in what he and other military leaders have called the “great-power competition.” This includes adversaries like Russia, North Korea, China and Iran.

Among changes announced is the creation of the Integrated Capabilities Command. The command is expected to drive modernization for the Department of the Air Force.

Kendall and other leaders laid out this plan during the Air and Space Forces Association’s Warfare Symposium in Colorado. Hoagland and DDC executive vice president, aerospace and defense Elaine Bryant attended this conference.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is central to the economy of the Dayton region. The military base is the largest single-site employer in the state, according to JobsOhio. It has roughly $16 billion in economic activity tied to it yearly.

The base has also helped in attracting business development like Sierra-Nevada Corp.’s aircraft maintenance and overhaul facility at Dayton International Airport and Joby Aviation’s $477 million investment in the Dayton area.

WPAFB is home to Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC). The command employs nearly 86,000 airmen and civilians worldwide and manages $71.3 billion of budget authority. It is tasked with managing installation and mission support, discovery and development, test and evaluation, and more for every major Air Force weapon system, according to the U.S. Air Force.

“If you think of all the weapons systems that the Air Force uses, their lifecycles — from requirements to sustainment and disposal — are all managed in one way, shape or form, through Wright Patterson Air Force Base,” said Bryant. “And that’s huge.”

This means AFMC will play a central role in the review process.

“In the secretary’s announcement, he made it clear that Air Force Materiel Command grows and is not diminished by any of the reorganizational changes,” Turner said. “They all occur under Air Force Materiel Command at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.”

Exact timelines for each of the changes announced this month are unclear, but include a mix of “near-term and longer-term” efforts.

DDC officials are working with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and state and congressional leaders to carve a path ahead.

“We are working on this every day,” Hoagland said. “It takes a community and we’re going to continue to work with all the partners to see what the next steps are and to continue to move the ball forward.”

Turner said efforts to reoptimize the Air Force follows a similar process in the Army and one underway in the Navy. It’s focused on speeding up innovation, acquisition and implementation of capabilities evolved to modern threats.

Turner recently made national news by sounding alarm bells over Russia working on nuclear capabilities in space.

“Russia and China have been called near-peer adversaries. Unfortunately, the pace at which they’re deploying new military capabilities could make them superior adversaries,” he told the Dayton Daily News Monday. “We need to ensure that our military has the strongest capabilities in order to thwart their attempts at expanding authoritarianism at the expense of democracy.”

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