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Defense act authorizes nearly $10M for design of base ‘acquisition complex,’ sets stage for $200+M development

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, gate. (U.S. Air Force/Released)

The most recent version of the federal defense budget includes $9.9 million for planning and design of a new “Acquisition Management Complex” at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, setting the stage for an expected investment of more than $200 million into the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC).

Current AFLCMC facilities at Wright Patterson (where the center is headquartered) are in poor shape, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner said in an interview Thursday.

The AFLCMC function has “decrepit and outdated facilities, with the need to expand its facilities because of the increased responsibilities that the Life Cycle Management Center has for all the acquisition functions of the Air Force that travel through Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” the congressman said.

In the end, this expanded complex will represent a more than $200 million development at Wright-Patterson, said Turner, a Dayton Republican who has long advocated for the base and the military.

AFLCMC is responsible for the development and sustainment of Air Force weapons and equipment, from cradle to retirement. The center’s motto: “If Airmen fly it, fuel it, transport it, drive it, wear it, shelter in it, communicate with it or drop it on targets, AFLCMC provides it.”

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The defense budget also includes as a 5.2% increase in service member basic pay, the largest pay raise in over 20 years.

The House’s version of the new defense budget also authorizes more than $240 million to reduce out-of-pocket housing expenses for members of the military and expands reimbursements available to military spouses for relicensing or business costs when military families move.

“The National Defense Authorization Act is among the most consequential pieces of legislation that Congress takes up every year,” Turner said in a statement. “Expanding operations at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base remains one of my top priorities, and this year’s NDAA includes several key funding initiatives for Wright-Patt that will grow our local economy and bolster the Miami Valley’s defense industry.”

The new budget also opens military commissary and recreational facility access to remarried Gold Star spouses, who are surviving spouses of military members who died during their service.

The measure also requires the Department of Defense to publish and maintain a website of wait lists for childcare centers, expands the in-home childcare pilot program to focus on more rural areas and requires the department to identify ways local installations can expand childcare capacity by partnering with off-installation childcare providers.

The budget so far also strengthens oversight of the TRICARE pharmacy program, waives fees and co-pays on the TRICARE dental program for all members of the Selected Reserve and prohibits cuts in reimbursement rates for providers of applied behavior analysis for the treatment of autism.

In recent years, the Air Force has identified two child development facilities at Wright-Patterson as priorities. It has been unclear when construction on those may begin. There was no new information on that Thursday.

The 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson reports to AFLCMC, as does the 66th Air Base Group at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

Anchored at Wright-Patt, AFLCMC has more than 17,000 civilian employees at 79 locations worldwide, with about 36% of those in the Dayton area. Employees work in acquisition, financial and program management, contracting and other areas in a global effort to sustain and modernize Air Force planes and weapons.

Late last month, Biden nominated a three-star Air Force general to lead AFLCMC.

If Lt. Gen. Donna Shipton is confirmed, she will be the center’s first woman commander.

Wright-Patterson is a large Air Force base, with the largest concentration of employment in one location in the state of Ohio, about 35,000 military and civilian employees.

Both the House and Senate Armed Services committees were scheduled to mark up their versions of the new defense budget this week.

In March, President Joe Biden proposed a $886 billion defense budget, beginning the months-long defense budgeting process. The House and Senate shape the request to their liking, often allocating more than the president has proposed and identifying their own priorities.


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