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Task force studies Ohio Guard bases to prepare for BRAC reviews

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, right, gets a briefing while visiting the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, Ohio, on Aug. 30, 2017. According to a report on Saturday, Oct. 28, state lawmakers are visiting bases across Ohio in anticipation of a nationwide review and reorganization of military bases.

PAUL STENNETT/OHIO NATIONAL GUARD

By KATHERINE COLLINS | Dayton Daily News, Ohio (Tribune News Service) | Published: October 28, 2017

State lawmakers are visiting bases across Ohio in anticipation of a nationwide review and reorganization of military bases, including a stop at the Springfield Air National Guard Base this week.

The BRAC task force was formed by the Ohio speaker of the house to visit 15 bases in Ohio and make recommendations for how each base can be competitive with others across the country. BRAC stands for Base Realignment and Closure. It's a process that's set by Congress, state Rep. Rick Perales of Beavercreek said.

"In the past Ohio has not been really proactive," he said. "We have a great military presence -- guard, reserve and active duty. But we've never really appreciated it and got out front and promoted it."

Perales is the chairman of the BRAC task force. It has about a dozen members, including state representatives, military veterans and education experts.

A federal base review could happen in the next few years, Perales said.

"We want to make sure that we are in front of it this time," he said.

In 2005, during the last BRAC process, the Springfield base lost its missions training F-16 pilots, leaving its future in limbo. But new missions for the base were secured, eventually including remotely flying unmanned aircraft and analyzing data for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

"The members of my task force really are going to come away with a much better understanding of what we do here," Perales said.

The base is a big Springfield employer with about 1,200 total workers, including about 350 full-time employees, and an economic impact on the area of about $59 million. Military jobs in general are a major contributor to Ohio's economy, Perales said.

"It's very, very big and it's incumbent on us to make sure we do what we can at the state level to enhance that," he said.

The task force met Wednesday with Springfield base leaders who explained the importance of each mission. The Springfield base also is home to cyber and communications units. It has also brought on Army units.

The task force will create a report of recommendations based on each visit and present it to state leaders in February or March, Perales said.

"We'll draw it up with high level recommendations and tactical recommendations on what we need to do to be better prepared," he said, "not only to keep our missions but to maybe even get missions that are out there – be competitive at least."

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