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U.S. CONGRESSMAN BILL JOHNSON Proudly Representing Eastern and Southeastern Ohio

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Legislators prepare case to save bases

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Warren, January 24, 2015 | comments
Anticipating a future round of U.S. military base closures or realignments, some members of Congress and military leaders from Ohio are not only circling the wagons around bases in the state - like the Youngstown Air Reserve State in Vienna - but want to expand the military's presence in Ohio.
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Warren Tribune
By Ron Selak, Jr.
Published January 24, 2015

Anticipating a future round of U.S. military base closures or realignments, some members of Congress and military leaders from Ohio are not only circling the wagons around bases in the state - like the Youngstown Air Reserve State in Vienna - but want to expand the military's presence in Ohio.

That was the consensus feeling among U.S. legislators and military officials in the state after a meeting in Columbus on Friday, held to give military leaders a chance to provide an update on the installations and their capabilities in preparation for a Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, process.

"We need to be in a position to make the case that Ohio military installations are doing their missions well, are doing it cost effectively, are doing it better than anybody else can do it," said U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta.

Other lawmakers attending were U.S. Reps. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, and Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo.

At the meeting from YARS was Col. James Dignan, commander of the 910th Airlift Wing, Johnson said.

Johnson said the meeting is the "beginning of a conversation" that will also include state lawmakers and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to ready themselves to "be singing of the same sheet of music, so when the time comes, we can put our best foot forward."

President Barack Obama has pushed for another BRAC process, but an unsupportive Congress has pushed back. Another round isn't likely to happen until 2017 at the earliest, but officials want to be prepared to protect what Johnson called a "wealth of defense expertise, military expertise and technological expertise" when it does.

"We want to be able to demonstrate that we provide tremendous value to our nation's defense," Johnson said.

Locally, there is an effort springing to rally support behind the air station among groups in Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

The Regional Chamber has asked the Western Reserve Port Authority to commit $75,000 over the next three years to create, fund and staff a regional military affairs commission that would be an advocate for YARS, the fourth largest employer in the Mahoning Valley. The Chamber is also out looking for $20,000 from private foundations.

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