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Ohio air bases under microscope this week

Michelle Gigante
U.S. Air Force photo

Update 3:36pm - The commission released the following statement:

The National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force is intent on getting "outside the Capital Beltway" as it conducts its congressionally-mandated, comprehensive study of the Air Force's structure against the backdrop of ever-evolving security. Commissioners from the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force (NCSAF) visited Wright-Patterson AFB and Springfield ANGB on July 29, 2013. Commissioners attended briefings, spoke with airmen, and heard testimony, all of which will be considered as part of its analysis and recommendations due to Congress and the President by Feb. 1, 2014. Commissioners and NCSAF staff spent the morning visiting with a number of senior Air Force personnel at WPAFB. The Chairman emphasized that this was an extremely important visit, due to the scope and diversity of missions at the air base, which provided the Commissioners a unique opportunity to gather additional information. During a stand-up press conference, Commissioner Janine Davidson further highlighted the Commission is trying to figure out how to answer the questions that are stated in the Congressional statute that defined the Commissions responsibilities. “…There is no better way than to visit these bases and talk to the personnel there to learn about their missions,” Davidson said. Commissioner Bud Wyatt added that the Commission feels the need to “get outside the Beltway” and that it has gained many insights from here that will help it to move forward. The commissioners then received briefings from the 88th Air Base Wing while en route to the Air Force Mobility Command headquarters. Once there, the commissioners were given an overview of the Air Force LCMC, Air Force Research Labs, National Air and Space Intelligence Center (655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group), Air Force Institute of Technology, 445th Airlift Wing, and 88th Air Base Wing. Briefers consistently mentioned the impact of furloughs and sequestration on their units’ ability to accomplish their individual missions. Others who met with the commissioners raised their concerns about the impact of budget cuts that have already occurred. The commissioners then went to Springfield and received a closed briefing concerning remotely piloted vehicles. They were then briefed by Air National GuardNCOs and enlisted technicians, who provided an overview of their responsibilities. The commissioners again emphasized their interest in the impact on the daily lives of airmen and their families due to operational tempo, specifically focusing on whether there were any differences between Active duty and Air National Guard airmen and families.

The US Air Force is undergoing a congressionally mandated review of all its operations and Ohio is in the spotlight this week.

Congress wants to know if the Air Force is properly structured to deal with current and future missions and homeland defense.

A commission studying the military branch is in Ohio this week to tour Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the Springfield, Rickenbacker and Mansfield Air National Guard bases.

Monday they're at Wright-Patt to meet with airmen, officials and inspect the base. They go on to Springfield in the afternoon.

The commission has already heard from leaders in Washington DC but is also holding several hearings around the country. Given Wright-Patt's size and impact on Ohio's economy, a hearing is set for Tuesday at the Statehouse. Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and other state, local and and military leaders are slated to testify.

The commission's report is due to Congress by February.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.