Wright-Patt waiting on Pentagon for more details on cuts

Published: Friday, March 01, 2013 @ 3:08 PM
Updated: Friday, March 01, 2013 @ 3:14 PM

Coming Sunday

Some blame divided government for the stalemate that has ground legislative progress to a halt. Is Congress workable when one party controls one house of Congress and the opposite party controls the other?

Wright-Patterson leaders and employees anxiously awaited the impact of sequestration as a Friday countdown to the automatic spending cuts loomed.

Many questions remain unanswered and won’t be known until the base receives instructions from the Department of Defense and the Air Force, according to Col. Cassie B. Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson.

Up to 13,000 employees face the prospect of forced unpaid time off of 22 days between April and September, or a 20 percent reduction in pay during that time period. Furlough notices could begin to be sent out in mid-March. Military personnel are exempt from the furloughs.

A growing number of base employees have asked for information about where to find help or answers, said Danna Plewe, Wright-Patterson community support coordinator.

“We are prepared to support whatever our installation needs,” she said. “That said, we still are very much waiting on guidance on what the impact is going to be and what resources we are going to need to leverage at what time.”

This month, the base will start town halls forums and information fairs to answer employee questions and offer assistance, Barlow said. A telephone hotline and website are also in operation to answer questions.

Plewe said she will face her own financial challenge because she and her husband are both employed at the base with college tuition bills for two children coming due in the months ahead.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Holly Vaught, a base service member, said the military works closely with civilian workers at Wright-Patterson. Even though airmen won’t face furloughs, they could feel the effects of fewer civilian employees with longer days on the job to concerns over how child day care and youth after school programs could be impacted, the mother of two children said.

Some cuts already in effect

Barlow said Friday the reduction in “non-pay” accounts will be between 10 to 15 percent. “We’ve already started to make some reductions and as soon as we get an exact number we can make a little bit more exact planning instead of just approximations which is what we are doing right now,” she said.

Thus far, a civilian hiring freeze has been imposed, nearly 350 temporary workers face losing their jobs, and travel and office purchases have been curtailed.

Jene Curell, chief of installation protocol at the base, said she apologized to her 13 civilian employees as they started work Friday.

“I’m not quite sure what I was apologizing for other than I know how difficult it’s going to be on all of them and I’m looking at that young mother who is a single parent knowing that she is going to endure a 20 percent pay cut,” Curell said. “For some of us, we’re more easily able to absorb that. For her, it’s really going to be rough. I look at the next employee over, she has two adult children who are without jobs living with her, so that 20 percent is going to be pretty difficult.

“More than anything else we have to support each other,” she added. “I have to stand there with my team and be there when I know it’s going to get tougher, because it will.”

She also expressed frustration with the inability of political leaders in Washington to reach a budget deal to avert the automatic cuts. She said she would tell them “how ineffably disappointed I am at their ability to act like grown-ups.”

“On the cover of The Economist (magazine) a few weeks back they had a picture, and it was a cartoon picture, where the title was ‘Babies,’ exclamation point, and that’s exactly how I feel. How can you possibly have let it devolve?”

The Air Force Materiel Command, headquartered at Wright-Patterson, issued a statement late Friday that it hoped political leaders would reach a balanced deficit reduction plan “before too much damage is done to our national defense capability.”

“We are committed to carrying out our defense mission while dealing with the senseless chaos and inefficiency of sequestration that will seriously disrupt our ability to serve the nation,” the statement said in part.

Gov. Kasich told loss in payroll could be $166M in Ohio

Aston B. Carter, deputy secretary of defense, sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich on Friday that said along with the potential for 26,000 civilian Defense Department employees being furloughed in Ohio, the Air Force would cut at least $3 million in operation costs and the Army at least $2 million at installations in the state. The loss in payroll from furloughs was estimated at $166 million statewide.

“We are still assessing detailed changes and will be able to provide additional information on cutbacks in Ohio as we compile a more detailed list,” Carter wrote.

Michael Gessel, Dayton Development Coalition vice president of federal programs in Washington, D.C., said the threat from the cuts are the randomness of where they will fall on the budget and how quickly they will happen.

“We really are entering into an unknown era,” he said.

The clearest impact is “that there will be job hours lost,” Gessel said. “There will likely be contractor positions lost.”

But the cuts will take time to unfold, he said.

“Within days we will see more and more of these decisions on where the budget cuts will occur,” Gessel said. “What is unknown is the effect of these budget cuts.”

Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, D.C., said the main problem with sequestration is the limited ability to determine where cuts fall.

“The cuts must be made as a uniform percentage across every program, project and activity,” he wrote in an email. “Congress will need to pass a measure to give the (Defense Department) the flexibility it needs to avoid making the kind of idiotic cuts sequestration will force it to make.”

Troy Tingey, president of American Federal Government Employees Council 214, which represents about 6,500 employees at Wright-Patterson, said the union would present a proposal on how to handle the furloughs to the Department of Defense.

“We’re trying to make sure the employees’ benefits are not affected,” he said in a telephone interview from Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Tingey said many employees didn’t believe the furloughs would happen.

Hundreds pay Memorial Day tribute to nation’s fallen in Dayton

Published: Monday, May 29, 2017 @ 1:54 PM
Updated: Monday, May 29, 2017 @ 5:06 PM

Edgar J. Moorman wore a red, white and blue flag-like vest, sat in a wheelchair at the Dayton National Cemetery and held an American flag to honor all of his fellow soldiers who didn’t come home.

The 98-year-old World War II and Army veteran who fought in the South Pacific islands, was grateful for the hundreds who turned out at the Memorial Day ceremony Monday to remember fallen service members.

“It’s of great significance,” he said. “It’s good that they speak of the actual thing about honoring those that gave their lives instead of the cookouts that are going on. I’m just glad that I was able to reach age 98.”

RELATED: Veterans share experiences at solemn ceremony

Veterans, family members and others gathered Monday at the historic cemetery that will mark its 150th anniversary this year. A Civil War veteran was the first interred on the grounds on Sept. 11, 1867.

Five of Moorman’s 12 children joined him under a tent surrounded by more than 48,000 white gravestones, each with an American flag planted next to it.

“It’s the true meaning of Memorial Day,” said Patrick Moorman, 53, of Miamisburg and the youngest child of the WWII vet. “My dad appreciates representing his generation to those that aren’t around.”

On this Memorial Day, U.S. forces remain in years-long combat in Afghanistan and in the Middle East. The nation has lost more than a million in conflict since the Revolutionary War.

It’s important not only to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, Air Force Col. John D. McKaye said, but also to “remember those who bear sacrifices unseen.”

READ MORE: Dayton VA to celebrate 150 years of service to veterans

“Those who return to us and are scarred by what they’ve seen and endured in war,” he said.

Today’s missions challenge service members not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, said McKaye, commander of the 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

That includes making sure they have the tools to be successful on the battle and home fronts, he said, such as helping them develop the ability to make safer choices, build life skills, reduce self-defeating behaviors and improve resiliency.

“It’s up to us back home to ensure their sacrifices and the sacrifices of the ones they leave behind do not go unheeded or unheralded,” McKaye said at the ceremony.

DETAILS: Springfield Memorial Day parade honors fallen military members

An-all volunteer honor squad started two years ago to provide full military honors for the estimated 1,000 veterans buried every year at the cemetery, said Dennis J. Adkins, a Montgomery County judge active in setting up support activities on the historic grounds.

Until then, only about 10 percent of veteran burials received full honors, including a rifle salute. The squad started wearing Union Army soldier caps Monday and will continue to do so through Sept. 11 to mark the cemetery’s anniversary.

“They’re out here in all kinds of weather — rain, sleet, snow, 100 degree weather — they’re out here at every service, sometimes doing six, seven, eight services a day,” Adkins said.

Cemetery Director Douglas Ledbetter told the crowd it was time “to put memorial back in Memorial Day.”

MORE COVERAGE: Many veterans still struggle to find work

“We not only honor the sacrifice of our veterans, we think of the mother who hears the sound of her child’s 21-gun salute, we grieve for the husband or wife who receives a folded flag, we grieve for a young son or daughter who only knows mom or dad through a photograph,” he said. “And as we share their grief, we also honor those among us, true heroes who place nation above self and give their all for each of us.”

Therese A. Young, 81, of North Hampton, wore a white Gold Star wives cap in memory of her husband, Edward, an Army veteran who served in Vietnam and died at age 72 in 2008.

Young said her husband’s death was caused from cancer due to Agent Orange, a defoliant U.S. forces sprayed widely in Vietnam.

“His country was so important to him and when everybody else can recognize that, I think I’m happy with that,” she said.

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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