President Obama’s budget proposals have been making waves this week. He and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are pushing to downsize the Army and Air Force and finally end the war in Afghanistan.
But buried deeper in the President's defense budget, are line items for scientific research, says Michael Gessel with the Dayton Development Coalition.
“A large part of the science and technology which is done by the Air Force is performed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Gessel says. Wright-Patt is involved in everything from sensor technology development to what’s called human performance, research on how members of the military interact with technology used for surveillance and war.
The budget proposes cuts in the hundreds of millions to basic and applied Air Force research, although other research areas such as cybersecurity could see increases.
The $496 billion in discretionary military spending would be bolstered by a special “Opportunity, Growth and Security” fund paid for with a combination of reforms and reduced tax breaks for the wealthy. The fund would funnel money above sequestration levels to a split of defense and non-defense programs, adding $28 billion to the defense budget and making it more robust than the 2014 budget currently being enacted.
Without detailed line items, it’s hard to say exactly where Wright-Patt would feel the pain-—and those details will also have to make it through Congress by October, when the 2015 fiscal year begins.
The budget is already seeing partisan push-back in Congress.
“The President's delayed FY2015 budget will greatly impact our national security and not reflect the increased security risks around the world,” wrote U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-10) in a statement last week. Turner has been a dogged advocate against most military cuts that would affect Wright-Patt, which is largely in his district.
“He proposes more of the same failed policies that have led to record debt, sustained high levels of long-term unemployment, and an alarming number of people giving up hope and leaving the workforce altogether,” wrote U.S. Senator Rob Portman, also a Republican.
Gessel says after meetings with the Dayton-area’s Congressional delegation later this month, the Dayton Development Coalition and the delegation will work together to advocate for line items particularly important to the Dayton area. “It’s very hard to swim against the tide,” he says. “We have to pick our battles carefully.”
One day after the unveiling of the budget, a $10 million renovation project at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was postponed. The construction would have renovated a 53,000 square foot building at the base. Base spokesman Daryl Mayer says the renovation project was in its early stages, and after assessing the resources in the current FY2014 budget, the bae will archive the information from contractors and will try to get funding again next fiscal year.