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Local reaction to BRAC vote
Posted: 09/20/2005 by AFIT Public Affairs

DAYTON | Wright-Patterson Air Force Base supporters were jubilant Thursday as the independent Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted mainly to keep base jobs there and add more than 900 jobs involving medical education, research and training.

"I'd say it's a big win for Wright-Patterson. These are high-end, high-tech jobs we're using to brand ourselves for (economic) development," said John P. Nauseef, president and chief executive officer of the Dayton Development Coalition.

The panel struck down a recommendation that would have relocated the Development and Fielding Systems Group from Wright-Patterson to Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. The coalition said moving DFSG would have cost the Dayton area more than 4,500 jobs.

It also voted to keep the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson and bring several medical research and training functions to Wright-Patterson from Brooks Air Force Base in Texas and other locations.

It also decided to relocate sensors research from Hanscom and Rome, N. Y.

Base supporters shouldn't relax, said Nauseef, whose organization led Dayton-area efforts to defend existing jobs and win new work.

"We need to stay on top of it and work with our congressional delegation to make sure these decisions are executed," he said.

The base will lose a relatively small number of personnel and testing jobs which are to be relocated to other bases.

The overwhelmingly positive news about Wright-Patterson overshadowed bad news for Kettering, which will lose 425 defense jobs as a result of the BRAC Commission's vote to close the Defense Finance and Accounting Service station in Kettering.

A former AFIT commandant said the BRAC commission's action not only keeps the graduate school in place but offers the potential for greater support from the Defense Department.

The commission voted to establish an oversight board empowered to review and approve curricula and program development for AFIT and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Its members will include an equal number from the governing board of each school, but it will be based in Washington, D.C. and report to the office of the secretary of defense.

It will also have the authority to reduce duplication, increase collaboration and expand arrangements with private institutions.

"It'll provide additional advocacy, insight and support for AFIT," said retired Air Force Col. Michael Heil, who commanded AFIT from 2001 to 2003.

Heil was commandant when the Air Force and Navy created an informal Educational Alliance board to help the schools coordinate their programs and reduce duplication. The BRAC commission's action institutionalized the alliance.

The BRAC Commission put AFIT in play last month when it voted to consider merging the Air Force and Navy graduate schools in Monterey.

Heil, who retired in June as head of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate, said AFIT needs to stay at Wright-Patterson because its students and faculty work closely with AFRL researchers and utilize the laboratory's "world class" resources on the base.

The aerospace medical and physiological work to be moved to Wright-Patterson will expand similar work already here and promote technology transfer to civilian medical treatment, according to a local medical expert.

Frank Perez, chief executive officer of Kettering Medical Center, said the military aerospace medicine work will complement Wright State University's School of Aerospace Medicine and will have access to other Ohio medical resources, including the University of Cincinnati, Ohio State University in Columbus and the Cleveland Clinic.

"In 1993 and '95, both BRAC commissions overturned recommendations to move Brooks City (functions) to here. The argument was that we were not a good incubator to host that level of research," he said.

Perez said the Dayton Development Coalition's Wright-Pat 2010 committee formed a working group to develop a case that the Dayton region could support the work.

"This time we had a win," he said.

Perez noted that the Human Effectiveness Directorate activities to be moved from Brooks were located at Wright-Patterson until the 1960s.

The commission voted to close the DFAS station in the Kettering Business Park as part of a massive consolidation of defense payroll functions.

"This is a particularly strong blow to the City of Kettering, which still hasn't recovered the jobs it lost when the 1993 BRAC Commission closed the old DESC. Some of the BRAC commission members were clearly sympathetic to communities like Kettering which are suffering from a double hit. Unfortunately, a majority didn't see it that way," Nauseef said.

The DFAS offices are in a building formerly occupied by the Defense Electronics Supply Center. It was the host organization of Gentile Air Force Station, which was ordered closed in the 1993 BRAC. It's now the Kettering Business Park.

"Kettering still maintains a tremendous opportunity for gains" coming from Brooks Air Force Base in Texas and other locations, Nauseef said. He said the coalition recommends the business park be used as a "staging site" for the jobs coming to Wright-Patterson.

Contact Timothy Gaffney at (937) 225-2390.

By Timothy R. Gaffney

Dayton Daily News

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