Fear of another BRAC round has locals on edge

Springfield air base could be a target.

Local jobs could be in play as the Pentagon seeks to do another round of base closures that it says will save billions of dollars and help update weapons and training.

RELATED: Big fight expected over possible BRAC cuts

The chances of Congress agreeing to a BRAC commission, which looks at closing bases that the Pentagon says it no longer needs, is not likely during an election year. But everybody agrees changes are coming.

A White House summary of the fiscal year 2017 budget says the administration will pursue options for reducing wasteful spending on unneeded infrastructure even if there is no authorization for another BRAC round.

“We have to figure out how to do more with less, there’s no doubt about it,” said Deborah Gross, executive director of the Dayton Area Defense Contractors Association.

The stakes are always high with any talk of a base realignment and closure. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base gained 1,200 jobs in the last round a decade ago, capturing the biggest coup when the 711th Human Performance Wing — and the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine — relocated to Wright-Patterson from Texas.

Some experts believe Wright-Patt could fare well in the next round as well. But the Springfield Air National Guard base could be a target, according to Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs.

In the last round, the Springfield base lost a squadron of F-16s that trained pilots but picked up a new role in overseas drone missions.

“We can expect (Springfield) will be considered again if there is another base closure round but we can’t predict the outcome,” Gessel said. “There is a history of strong community support for the base and we are likely to see that again if its missions are considered by a future BRAC commission.”

Ohio’s federal lawmakers are not eager to see another BRAC.

“I believe this is an issue that should be left up to the next administration,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, whose district spans Wright-Patterson.

“I will continue to oppose President Obama’s efforts to force additional cuts in defense spending, including a BRAC,” he said.

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