Across Ohio, there are military bases that support our national security, and simultaneously create thousands of jobs and infuse our local economies. Recently, I had the opportunity to convene elected officials from the federal, state, and local levels, military personnel, and other crucial stakeholders to discuss the defense issues that are impacting these entities and the Central Ohio region.
Together with Congresswoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Congressman Pat Tiberi (R-OH), we provided updates from Washington, D.C. that will affect the Buckeye State. In recent months, Ohio has continued to lobby the Administration and the Department of Defense (DOD) to accelerate the purchase of Abrams Tanks in order to guarantee our troops have this necessary equipment on the battlefield.
This is critical for our military’s readiness, but it would also be a win for Ohio. The only remaining tank plant is located in Lima, and over 260 Ohio companies contribute directly to the manufacturing of these vehicles. Therefore, the push to modernize the fleet will result in an economic uptick for all of the businesses involved.
Recently, the House also took an important step in passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. As our country assesses the threats from nations like Iran, Russia, and North Korea, it has never been more essential to ensure our military’s readiness. Consequently, the NDAA included funding for aviation readiness, Naval presence, ground forces, and missile defense. Missile defense is especially timely in Ohio — the NDAA included funding for an East Coast Missile Defense Site, and Camp Ravena, near Akron, is being considered. Much like modernizing the tank fleet, updates to Camp Ravena would bring economic benefit to companies across the state, including in the 15th District.
Overall, the NDAA means good things for central Ohio. Defense Supply Center, Columbus (DSCC) is responsible for supplying U.S. forces around the globe with necessary products and supporting operational readiness. Representatives from DSCC were also on hand to provide updates. The base will benefit from acquisition reform included in the NDAA that will allow them to make sound economic choices rather than focusing heavily on burdensome compliance regulations. For example, they will be able to purchase supplies through open marketplaces online like Amazon or Staples.
Additionally, the funding for critical military construction included in the DOD appropriations opens up opportunities for Air and Army readiness in Ohio. Brigade facilities and small arms range could be constructed at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Franklin County.
Overall, I am optimistic about the defense industry in Ohio. I look forward to seeing the sustained growth of the industry and subsequently the economy as our district and our state continues to play a crucial role in providing for our nation’s common defense.
Steve Stivers is a member of Congress from Ohio’s 15th Congressional District. He can be contacted at his Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-2015, Hilliard office at 614-771-4968, Lancaster office at 740-654-2654 or Wilmington office at 937-283-7049.