Military affairs chief remains unpicked
The cabinet-level position a promise of new governor.
By Kara Driscoll
Staff Writer
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has not nominated anyone for a new cabinet-level position that would focus on military affairs in the state, a position that could be paramount to promoting growth at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

During the election, DeWine proposed creating a cabinet-level position to protect Ohio military installations, including Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

In the Dayton area, the person in the position would work to protect Wright-Patterson, which has an estimated 27,000 civilian and military workers.

DeWine told this news organization on Sunday that the position has not been filled.

He said the position would focus on military bases across the state, including Wright-Patterson and NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

”My commitment is that we’ll have someone at cabinet rank who will be concerned about our military installations all over the state of Ohio,” he said. “That is a very important thing. The military supplies an awful lot of jobs in Ohio. Imagine what the impact on the Miami Valley is - having so many scientists... and mathematicians who live in this community.”

The position would focus on Wright-Patterson, NASA Glenn Research Center, and other military installations across the state. Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said “a cabinet-level position whose chief function is to bolster the military installations in our state is the kind of forward thinking organization Ohio needs to get an edge for future investment against other states.”

”As a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, I know firsthand that Ohio must improve our competitiveness to support and grow the military missions we have,” he said. “I look forward to working with the DeWine administration as it moves forward with this position.”

DeWine’s administration is already looking at infrastructure readiness in cities surrounding Wright-Patterson. He said he’d like to see available buildings right off base so that contractors and other businesses can easily move into a building in close proximity to the military.

’’We’re looking at doing some type of partnership,” he told this news organization.

If a partnership like it did occur, it would likely be a large economic driver for surrounding cities like Fairborn and Beavercreek, as well as Greene and Montgomery counties.

Deborah Gross, executive director of the Dayton Area Defense Contractor Association, said she was not aware of lack of space being an issue but it makes sense to be ready for the potential of growth in the defense sector.

’’WPAFB has physical space and a strong workforce making giving it a great opportunity to grown missions or to bring in new missions,” she said. “It is important to have elected officials at the state and federal level that understand the importance of that and that will work together.”

DeWine has filled all other positions in his cabinet. He announced retired Maj. Gen. Deborah Ashenhurst, who served in the Ohio National Guard for nearly 40 years, will fill the Veterans Services cabinet position.

She also served as the adjutant general and commander of the state of Ohio, a position she left in 2014.

In that role, Ashenhurst commanded the 18,000 personnel of the Ohio Army and Air National Guard, Ohio Military reserve and Ohio Naval Militia.

Contact this reporter at 937-225-0551 or email