Task force will search for ways to protect Ohio military bases

A state task force with two local higher education leaders is expected to issue recommendations on how to protect Ohio military and federal installations if a round of base closures starts.

Retired Air Force Col. Cassie B. Barlow, director of professional aerospace development at the Southwest Ohio Council for Higher Education, and Michael Wiehe, director of the Wright State University Applied Policy Research Institute, were appointed to the 12-member task force.

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Barlow is a former installation commander of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The task force expects to release recommendations early next year on how to prepare for a Base Realignment and Closure process, otherwise known as BRAC, said panel chairman and state Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek.

“What I expect is for this committee to come up with a number of recommendations on what the state needs to do to be prepared,” the Air Force veteran said. “Even if a BRAC isn’t approved, the (Department of Defense) has it within (its) authority to do all kinds of mission changes. …. We can expect the (Department of Defense) to try and get as efficient as they can short of a BRAC.”

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A dozen members were assigned to the House task force, which will visit major military and federal installations in the Buckeye State before the end of the year, Perales said. The task force will tour Wright-Patterson, NASA Glenn Research Center and the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center tank assembly factory in Lima, among various sties.

Task force members met for the first time Wednesday at the Statehouse.

The panel of mostly state lawmakers and business and university representatives has experts knowledgeable about BRAC and representation from throughout Ohio, Perales said.

This year, state lawmakers earmarked a total of $500,000 over two years to Wright-Patterson infrastructure needs in a bid to bolster its military value in the event of a BRAC.

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