F-16s filling skies above region today

Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 @ 6:46 PM
Updated: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 @ 6:46 PM

The thunder you hear in the skies today is not thunder.

The Ohio Air National Guard’s 180th Fighter Wing has starting flying in F-16s to Wright-Patterson while crews repave the unit’s home runway at Toledo Express Airport in Swanton. Two of the fighter jets landed at Wright-Patterson on Tuesday, and more arrived Wednesday, officials said.

The unit flies an air sovereignty alert status mission to defend North American airspace.

The Fighting Falcon jets were expected to stay in the Miami Valley until early September, base officials said.

The F-16s will share the flight line with the Air Force Reserve’s 445th Airlift Wing which flies the C-17 Globemaster III and is home based at Wright-Patterson.

Turner bill would expand military sexual assault victims rights

Published: Saturday, May 27, 2017 @ 5:45 AM
Updated: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 2:29 PM

U.S. Rep. Nikki Tsongas, D-Mass., (at podium) and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, at a press conference in Dayton in August 2016. BARRIE BARBER/STAFF
Barrie Barber

Two House lawmakers have introduced a bill to allow the military’s highest court to hear appeals from sexual assault survivors on decisions during trial proceedings, officials say.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, and Nikki Tsongas, D-Mass., have co-introduced the BE HEARD Act, which stands for Building an Environment for Helpful, Effective, and Accessible Representation and Decision-making. The two are co-chairpersons of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus.

RELATED: Military sexual assault protections may expand to civilian base workers

Under the legislation, Air Force lawyers who aid sexual assault survivors would be required to receive specialized training on how sexual assault impacts male victims. The bill also would let military judges appoint legal representatives for minors who have been sexually assaulted or those who are incapable of representing themselves prior to filing charges against an alleged perpetrator.

RELATED: Turner introduces bill to combat sexual assaults in the military

“Sexual assault in the military is unacceptable,” Turner said. “BE HEARD will require Special Victims Counsel to undergo specialized training to better understand how survivors cope with the trauma of military sexual assault. BE HEARD also explicitly reinforces survivors’ rights throughout the judicial process, expanding access to the military’s highest court and ensuring timely legal representation while also improving protections for individuals who cannot represent themselves.”

Turner and Tsongas have collaborated on other bills addressing the issue of military sexual assault in the ranks.

“The BE HEARD Act takes important steps to correct deficiencies in the military justice system,” Tsongas said in a statement.

Trump seeks $52B increase in defense spending

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 7:24 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 7:24 PM

            The U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor. TY GREENLEES / STAFF

The Trump administration unveiled a $639.1 billion defense budget proposal Tuesday that it says is a step toward restoring military readiness levels that would boost the number of airmen in uniform.

As part of the budget, however, the administration is asking for a new round of military base closures in 2021.

RELATED: Trump budget calls for $3.6T in spending cuts, boost to defense

The proposed defense budget is a $52 billion increase over defense spending caps imposed under sequestration, and a 3 percent hike over an Obama administration plan, defense officials said. The budget proposes $574.5 billion in baseline spending and an additional $64.6 billion in wartime spending for overseas operations.

“This is not a historic buildup but a repair budget,” defense analyst Mackenzie Eaglen of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said in an email. “The president’s request is attempting to plug the holes and fill the gaps across the Defense Department and military services.”

‘Will not be enough’

While the budget increase stands out against cuts to many domestic programs, some defense hawks said the amount proposed doesn’t reach the levels necessary to rebuild the military, restore readiness and address combating terrorism and rising adversary threats.

“While I support President Trump’s commitment and intent to rebuild the military, this budget request will not be enough to do what he has said is needed to improve military capabilities and readiness,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

A Pentagon official defended the size of the increase in a briefing Wednesday.

RELATED: Exclusive: Top Air Force general says ‘all programs at risk’

“Fifty-two billion is not chump change,” said Defense Department Comptroller John P. Roth. “We’re not going to solve the readiness problem in one year. We’re not going to modernize in one year.”

Under the Trump administration proposal, Air Force spending would rise to a total of $183 billion compared to $171.1 billion this fiscal year, and add 4,100 airmen and dozens of F-35 fighter planes, documents show. Acquisition spending, a key mission at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, would also rise. Research and development spending would be “stable,” said Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs.

“On its face, it looks like good news for Wright-Patt,” but Congress isn’t likely to pass the federal budget President Donald Trump wants, said Loren B. Thompson, a senior defense analyst with the Virginia-based Lexington Institute and a defense industry consultant.

Gessel said the budget “positions Wright-Patterson for future growth.” He also said the defense plan is significant because it marks the first time the Trump administration asked for a round of base closures.

The budget did not include any major military construction dollars for Wright-Patterson.

RELATED: Air Force responds to Trump over Air Force One costs

The Air Force has struggled to restore readiness levels, which dropped to “historically low levels” four years ago and “will take years to fully rebuild,” an Air Force budget document says. The military branch wants to boost incentives to pilots and mechanics to reverse manpower shortages in the ranks.

Airmen in uniform would receive a 2.1 percent hike in military pay and civilian employees a 1.9 percent pay boost under the proposal. Military personnel would receive a 3.2 percent hike in a housing subsidy and 3.4 percent for basic allowance for subsistence, budget documents show.

More airmen in the ranks

The administration’s Air Force budget proposal raises the number of active duty airmen to 325,100, up 4,100 troops versus the prior year. The Air Guard would add 900 — boosting troop strength to 106,600 — while the Air Force Reserve would add 800, for a total of 69,800.

Research, development, test and evaluation spending would jump sharply to $25.4 billion, from $20.2 billion this year.

Procurement spending would jump to a total of $42 billion, an increase of about $1.1 billion compared to the current fiscal year.

The service branch plans to purchase 46 F-35A Joint Strike Fighters, part of a Defense Department plan to buy 70 of the jets for $10.3 billion.

The Air Force would purchase 15 KC-46 Pegasus refueling tanker jets for $3.1 billion, and spend $2 billion on research and development of the future B-21 Raider stealth bomber, the top acquisition priorities in addition to the controversial F-35, which has faced cost overruns and technical delays.

In a closely watched Wright-Patterson managed program criticized by Trump, spending on development of a future Boeing 747-8 to replace the current fleet of two presidential jets will rise to $434 million versus $322 million the year prior.

The budget spends millions to update the F-22 Raptor, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F-15 Eagle and unmanned drones. It removes a retirement date for the long-serving U-2 spy plane.

Dead on arrival?

Eaglen acknowledged the proposals won’t get through Congress without revision.

“Members from Sen. (John) McCain to Sen. (John) Cornyn have said this budget is straight up DOA. They’re right,” he said. “But it is still a useful framing document for where DoD will invest the money once it comes even though that is likely a long time from now.”

WPAFB commander to keynote Centerville Memorial Day ceremony

Published: Wednesday, May 17, 2017 @ 11:54 AM

            Col. Bradley McDonald. CONTRIBUTED

Col. Bradley McDonald, 88th Air Base Wing and Installation Commander, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will deliver the keynote address at the city of Centerville’s Memorial Day Ceremony.

McDonald took command of the 88th Air Base Wing in June.

The city of Centerville is scheduled to host a Memorial Day ceremony May 29, in remembrance of the men and women who have died in service of the country.

The ceremony, n remembrance of the men and women who have died in service of the country, will take place at the Veterans Memorial at Stubbs Park, 255 W. Spring Valley Rd.

The program includes color guard presentations from Centerville VFW Post 9550, the Centerville Police Department Honor Guard, and remarks from Centerville Mayor Brooks Compton.

RELATED: Family, friends and community gather to remember Kettering soldier

Other program activities include readings by local school students and a musical performance Centerville Community Band. Centerville area Boy and Girl Scouts will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

The public event will begin at 9 a.m. In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Centerville Police building, 155 W. Spring Valley Rd.

RELATED: Pentagon: Kettering soldier may have been killed by friendly fire

For more information, call Centerville Municipal Offices at 937-433-7151, or visit centervilleohio.gov.


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Kasich orders flags lowered Saturday for fallen Kettering soldier

Published: Friday, May 12, 2017 @ 5:46 PM

Sgt Cameron Thomas

Ohio Gov. John Kasich ordered flags lowered Saturday in honor of the memory of fallen Army Sgt. Cameron H. Thomas of Kettering who died in Afghanistan last month.

The governor’s office said the order applies from sunrise to sunset to all public buildings and grounds in Montgomery County and at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus.

Thomas, a 23-year-old Army Ranger, died April 26 during a raid on an ISIS-K compound as U.S. and Afghan forces targeted high-level insurgent leaders in eastern Afghanistan. He was killed by small arms fire, according to the Department of Defense. Fellow Ranger Sgt. Joshua P. Rodgers, 22, of Bloomington, Ill., also died in the raid and a third soldier was injured. The men were assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga.

RELATED: For Kettering soldier, service was ‘all he lived and breathed’

The Pentagon was investigating the death as a possible friendly fire incident, officials have said.

Thomas was a 2012 graduate of Fairmont High School in Kettering.