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Ohio governor reminds Trump that Dayton is the home of 'Air Force research'

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT

By THOMAS GNAU | Dayton Daily News, Ohio | Published: September 19, 2020

(Tribune News Service) — With President Trump scheduled to visit the Dayton area Monday, the president has before him a renewed request from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to make the Dayton area the permanent headquarters of the U.S. Space Command.

DeWine sent a letter to Trump on Thursday, the governor's office said.

Dayton advocates welcome the push, and they have celebrated Ohio's united endorsement of the region's efforts to bring Space Command here.

"It's important to show that we are – even though we are the underdog – we are a serious contender for this," said Elaine Bryant, executive vice president of defense and aerospace of the Dayton Development Coalition, the organization leading the call to bring the mission to the region. "Our governor, the entire state, are all on board. They are supporting this headquarters being located here at Wright-Patt (Wright Patterson Air Force Base) and the Dayton community."

"We are definitely coordinated across the state," Bryant added.

The predicted 1,400 new jobs that would accompany the command headquarters would be an "amazing" economic boost to the region, she noted.

Today, Space Command is anchored at its longtime (but provisional) home near Colorado Springs, Colorado, at Peterson Air Force Base. A national competition is on to host the headquarters of the Air Force command responsible for securing combat power in the space domain, but the Pentagon isn't expected to make a decision until early in 2021.

In his letter, DeWine highlighted Dayton's aviation history as well as the benefits of putting the Space Command headquarters near the Air Force Research Laboratory, NASIC, the Air Force Institute of Technology and Materiel Command.

DeWine also highlighted the NASA Glenn Research Center and NASA Plum Brook Station, as well as the Battelle Memorial Institute.

"Ohio possesses a strong track record in populating science-rich jobs with a superior workforce," the letter says. "I also recommend that Secretary Esper strongly consider the consolidation of space intelligence activities at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the establishment of the Space Development Agency's mission in Ohio, thereby taking advantage of our Air Force research, intelligence and acquisition expertise, and our NASA Glenn facilities in Cleveland and Plum Brook."

The decision will come from the Air Force's Strategic Basing Office, but it's expected that the president – whoever that is next year – will weigh in as commander-in-chief.

Dayton advocates argue that moving the headquarters to Wright-Patterson makes sense. Wright-Patterson, one of the nation's biggest Air Force bases, is the heart of Air Force research and logistics efforts. The National Air and Space Intelligence Center – better known as NASIC – is based here, as are the Air Force Materiel Command and the Air Force Research Lab, many of them with personnel who are already part of Space Force. Many other missions focused on the Air Force's future call Wright-Patt home.

Those skeptical of the move say it would be expensive to shift the headquarters here, with a move to anywhere but Peterson involving new buildings and infrastructure.

Col. Patrick Miller, installation commander at Wright-Patterson, recently told the Dayton Daily News that while the base has the physical space for a new major command, it does not have the buildings and infrastructure, at least not yet.

"When you talk about room, that would really break down to a couple of aspects," Miller said in an interview earlier this month. "Do we have existing buildings and infrastructure that could support them (Space Command functions and personnel), open capacities to support them with existing stuff? I would say 'No.'"

Space Command is distinct from the nation's newest military branch, Space Force.

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