Ohio base plans closer partnerships with community

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Leaders at Ohio's largest military base say they will build closer relationships with the private sector as they contend with a shrinking defense budget.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base brass on Wednesday emphasized the need for stronger partnerships and cost effectiveness following stark budget cuts and civilian furloughs last year.

The public and private sector partnerships could range from developers constructing new buildings on the base, to contracts with cities or the state for shared services or to cut costs on purchases, said Col. Cassie B. Barlow, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at the base.

Air Force leaders plan to explain the community partnership initiative at a forum on Feb. 20, The Dayton Daily News (http://bit.ly/Kl5hhn) reported.

The base went through budget cuts, furloughs and a government shutdown last year as the Defense Department cut spending. The suddenness of the reductions forced the base to find immediate ways to cut expenses, from turning off hallway lights during the workday to cutting contracts with some local companies.

"We're going to get smaller, we're going to get leaner and we need to do a better job managing our resources," said Lt. Gen. C.D. Moore II, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center commander, told the Dayton Area Defense Contractors Association Wednesday. The center manages acquisition and product support for aircraft, engines, munitions, electronics and cyberspace.

Details of further cuts weren't immediately available Wednesday. Congress has passed a $1.1 trillion spending budget that set aside $579 billion for the military in fiscal year 2014.

"Now we actually have some certainty, (but) there's still some unknowns about the allocation of the funds and how that's going to affect us in our business area, but I think it's fair to say ... the numbers are coming down and we're going to have to adjust accordingly," Moore said.

"I think it's the compelling reason why we need to strengthen our partnerships with industry, academia and other government organizations," he said.

Jack L. Blackhurst, director of plans and programs for the Air Force Research Laboratory, said the facility will rely more on small business innovation and international research and development partnerships.