300 Letters Sent in Support of Ravenna Missile Site

Decision on $3.6B Ravenna Missile Site Coming ‘Soon’

VIENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio – The decision about placing a missile defense site at Camp Ravenna should be coming “pretty soon,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman told members of the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission at the group’s annual meeting Friday.

“I think we are the best site, I really do. There’s a lot of reasons,” he said. “One is the community support … that the leaders that keep the public engaged so they know what this would mean.”

But first, the Missile Defense Agency must decide whether the East Coast Missile Defense System is necessary, noted Vito Abruzzino, executive director of the military affairs commission. If the report, which Abruzzino said has been on the desk of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ desk “a few times,” declares that such a site is needed, the Missile Defense Agency will have 90 days to make a site recommendation.

The three finalists for the $3.6 billion site are Camp Ravenna, Fort Custer in Michigan and Fort Drum in New York.

“If it’s announced, it’ll be a fast and furious 90 days to get Camp Ravenna named over those in Michigan and New York,” Abruzzino said.

Much of the commission’s focus the past year has been advocating for the missile defense site, he continued. The state of Michigan has spent over $1 million lobbying the Department of Defense, while New York’s federal congressional delegation has undertaken a media campaign.

“The more you engage and invest in an advocacy strategy, the more likely you are to see fruit from that tree,” Abruzzino said. “Ohio has to do the same things.”

In June business leaders who traveled to the nation’s capital as part of a “fly-in” sponsored by the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber reported they were told a decision would be coming in July.

Since it was created four years ago, the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission – which represents both Camp Ravenna and Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna Township – has worked on developing partnerships and connections between the base communities and legislators at the state and federal level. The success of those can be seen, Abruzzino said, in a resolution passed by the Ohio State House supporting the placement of the missile defense site in Ravenna.

The commission also has worked to secure funding for projects at the two bases, including an $8.5 million firing range at YARS, which opened Friday.

“This not only lets us increase our readiness and lethality for our airmen, but it also gives us the capability, through our community partnership program, to have our federal, local and state law enforcement agencies train,” said Col. Dan Sarachene, commander of the 910th Airlift Wing at YARS.

Mattis’ National Defense Strategy, Abruzzino noted, has put much emphasis on readiness and lethality for the American military.

“That’s his vision for what he believes installations and soldiers and airmen and Marines should be. … Readiness is a current and qualified force that’s ready to deploy at a moment’s notice,” Abruzzino said. “For the second piece, you have to do the best at your job in the world.”

Funding has also been secured for an $8.8 million front gate renovation at the Vienna air base and $7.6 million for a firing range at Camp Ravenna.

“If we keep money in here, that’s good. The military is less likely to divest in something they just put money in,” Portman said, noting that 66,000 jobs in Ohio are connected to the military. “We’ve got more projects coming. We’re always looking to the future.”

Also speaking at the commission’s annual meeting at YARS were U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson and Tim Ryan, both of whom emphasized the station’s work with additive manufacturing to produce replacement parts for aircraft.

“We want this base to be part of the intellectual future of the military,” said Ryan, D-13 Ohio. “We’re already seeing preliminary results of the investments in additive manufacturing. You can go to Kuwait, to Bahrain and the Air Force is there without the ability to access parts for the plane.”

In some instances, he said, the cost of creating parts is up to 30% lower than ordering them and cutting the timeframe for acquiring such parts in half.

The 3D printing projects are done in conjunction with Youngstown State University, America Makes and the University of Dayton Research Institute. Ryan noted that $20 million was recently secured to support the U.S. Army Manufacturing Technology program in Pittsburgh, a similar project working on additive manufacturing.

“I understand how, during military operations and conflicts, how critically important the supply chain is and making sure you can get critical parts when you need them,” said Johnson, R-6 Ohio. “The advances in additive manufacturing happening here in Youngstown will have a profound impact in years to come on America’s military infrastructure.”

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