Turner leads the Intelligence Committee as chairman.
“This has never happened before,” Turner told the Dayton Daily News Tuesday.
Leaders of major intelligence agencies are scheduled to visit Wright-Patterson, including CIA director Williams Burns, Avril Haines, director of national intelligence; and Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency and chief of the Central Security Service. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall is also scheduled to be part of the gathering.
“They will get a flavor of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Turner said, seeing firsthand the work of Wright-Patterson missions “not just as a user of intelligence, but as a generator of intelligence, and explaining part of the functions that happen right there at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, that contribute to our understanding of what our adversaries are doing.”
Wright-Patterson is home to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) and the National Space Intelligence Center (NSIC), each serving both the Air Force and the Space Force.
The goal of this trip is to ensure that those charged with making intelligence decisions are fully immersed in what goes on at Wright Patterson and these centers, Turner’s office said.
“It is historic,” Himes, D-Conn., said in an interview. “I’ve been on this committee for 10 years, and I don’t recall the committee ever doing anything like this.”
The group will conduct a discussion Friday at the base on national security issues, Turner said.
Committee members will also meet with senior leaders at Wright-Patterson.
The visit comes as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grinds into its second year and about two months after a Chinese high-altitude balloon with surveillance tools flew over the continental United States before being shot down over the Atlantic.
Himes said he is looking forward to seeing NASIC.
“I think there’s a bunch of really important things happening,” Himes said. “No. 1, you know, we’re going to get an opportunity to get to know NASIC, which is obviously doing really good work around lots of things, but particularly the Chinese balloon.”
He also praised Turner. “There’s just no substitute for traveling with your fellow (committee) members and particularly going across party lines. The way you form relationships is by getting out of DC, have a dinner with Democrats and Republicans. That’s the way you build friendships. To Mike’s great credit, he has worked very hard to get a sense of a strong bipartisan community on this committee, which had been so riven.”
Wright-Patterson is one of the nation’s most important military bases, and with some 35,000 military and civilian employees, the largest employer in one place in Ohio. It is home to Air Force Materiel Command, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Air Force Research Laboratory, missions that develop, equip and sustain Air Force tools and weapons.