Wright-Patterson poised for the next BRAC, when it happens

Ranking member of Military Construction Subcommittee visits Wright-Patterson Monday

Should there ever be another national base closure process, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is poised to emerge bigger, the ranking member on the House Appropriations Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Subcommittee said on visiting the base Monday.

“I think that will be the purpose of BRAC -- to make sure we are meeting the current missions of our armed forces,” said U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, whose Round Rock-area district includes the Fort Hood Army base. “I think Wright-Patterson will be right in the middle of that, and I would expect good things to happen.”

“When you talk about this particular Air Force base, it’s the premier Air Force base in the country,” added Carter, who is also a member of the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. “The things that are going on here, many of which we can’t talk about, are so very, very important to the warfighters across the board."

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Carter toured Wright-Patterson with U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, who serves on the House Committee on Armed Services. Turner’s office described Monday’s visit as an opportunity for a “BRAC inspection.”

In BRACs -- or Base Realignment and Closure processes -- an independent commission reviews and approves changes in how military bases are set up in the United States, recommending that some be closed and others enlarged.

The process is watched carefully by communities where military bases are strong employers and economic drivers.

There have been five rounds of base closures: 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995 and 2005. In the past 15 years, there has been no BRAC.

And there’s no way to know when there will be another, Carter said.

“You’d have to have a magic wand to figure out when that will be,” he said.

However, Turner noted that the Department of Defense has asked every two years for a new BRAC. Congress has deferred, but it’s not clear that can continue indefinitely, especially with growing federal spending and the nation on the cusp of either a new presidential administration or a second term for President Donald Trump.

“It’s very likely that someone might be, in looking to find savings with all the new modernization we have, to look to the BRAC process,” Turner said. “Infrastructure needs and how bases prepare to make certain they can solidify the missions they have is always important.”

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Wright-Patterson is key to winning the next war, Carter said.

“Our adversaries have been watching us fight, and how we fight, developing weapons to make problems for us if we are fighting them,” he said. "So therefore, as we look at BRAC, we’re going to be looking at the ability ... to get infrastructure to the base to expand their mission.

He added. “The missions that are taking place here (at Wright-Patterson) are fantastic and unbelievable, and extremely important missions for the future of warfighting.”

While Carter supports Texas as a permanent headquarters for the U.S. Space Command, he said he finds Wright-Patterson well-positioned there, too.

“They are ready if they are chosen," he said of Wright-Patterson, which Dayton-area advocates have nominated as the new home for Space Command, current at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado.

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