Virginia Lawmakers Seek to Halt Air Force Office Move

Sen. Tim Kaine, D- Va. Sen. Tim Kaine, D- Va. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Two senators and a Northern Virginia House member on Wednesday appealed to the Air Force to reconsider a reported plan to transfer its Office of Scientific Research from Arlington, Va., to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.

The office, with a staff of 200 employees who manage the service’s basic research, has put out a Request for Information on moving the office to Ohio, perhaps by 2016, according to a congressional source cited by the local news blog ARLNow.

Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., joined with Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., to make their case that the research office’s current location -- a stone’s throw from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Office of Naval Research -- is too important to give up.

“We understand the Air Force’s impulse to seek potential savings by consolidating some of its facilities within the fold of the Air Force Research Laboratory,” said the letter to Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command based at Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. “Such efforts are commendable in the current fiscal environment, with declining defense budgets.”

But “Northern Virginia offers a unique and valuable ‘critical mass’ of military resources, technology infrastructure, world-class universities and cutting-edge talent,” Warner said in a statement asking that Wolfenbarger reconsider the reported decision.

“Any initial savings from this move would be dwarfed by the long-term costs of lost research and innovation,” Moran said.

“With the region’s many universities and research institutes, as well as a growing community of science and technology professionals, Northern Virginia has proven to be a prime location for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research,” Kaine added.

Since the 1950s, the office has pursued breakthroughs in radiochemistry, superconductivity and environmental technologies, as well as advancements in the treatment of battlefield injuries.

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