Congressmen tour Wright-Patt to familiarize ahead of base reviews

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Centerville, and U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, toured Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Monday for four hours as part of an inspection meant to familiarize Carter with the base in advance of a new military base closing process.

The Department of Defense has conducted several rounds of base closings, the most recent in 2005, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has requested Congress initiate another round to be conducted in 2017. Turner said Monday he thinks another round of closings is likely. Turner, chairman of the House Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee, said he is trying to protect Wright-Patt from BRAC implementations and Department of Defense budget cuts.

During the 2005 process Wright-Patt ended up adding jobs as several missions were moved to the base from smaller bases.

Carter is the chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Appropriations and also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittees on Defense and Commerce, Justice and Science. Carter represents the district that includes Fort Hood, Texas, one of the country’s largest Army bases.

“We certainly hope the Dept. of Defense would follow Congressman Carter’s analysis of looking at core bases and core operational centers and then consolidating in those,” Turner said. “That would certainly give us an advantage here locally.”

Wright-Patt is Ohio’s largest single-site employer.

Amy Shockey’s nephew works at the base and said any changes would have a far-reaching impact on the region.

“Any kind of time you start talking the elimination of jobs, it hurts the community,” she said.

Carter said that common sense prevails during BRAC processes.

“This is my third visit to Wright Patterson, and I’m going to tell you, I’ve been impressed every time I’ve been here,” Carter added.

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