Washington, D.C. – Arnold Community Council (ACC) members recently made their annual trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with elected officials and staffers about Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC).
Early in the planning for this trip, the group knew they wanted to garner Congressional support for AEDC and establish a caucus. They also wanted to build a relationship with the support groups for Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
“With the standup of the new Air Force Test Center (AFTC) being headquartered at Edwards AFB, the Arnold Community Council believes it is time to consider strategies that will benefit and protect the test center and its test assets,” ACC President, Temple Bowling said.
Earlier this year, Air Force Materiel Command proposed a new organization, AFTC, placing AEDC and Eglin AFB under Edwards AFB leadership with initial operating capability planned for Oct. 1.
“We want to join with the Edwards community support groups, Edwards AFB Civ-Mil and Antelope Valley Board of Trade, to mutually support the new center,” Bowling continued. “By advocating for the AFTC, the test organizations at Edwards, Eglin and Arnold would all benefit.”
One of the key items on the trip agenda was working with Congressional delegations to create a Defense Test and Training Range Caucus, similar to the efforts of Logistic depots across the three bases.
Bowling said the purpose of a caucus would be to preserve and protect critical national test assets for the Air Force, Department of Defense and the nation. As a former director of contracting at AEDC, Bowling understands why AEDC is so important to national defense.
“It’s vital to the country for AEDC to retain its ability and capacity to reduce the cost of developing military and commercial aerospace systems. Key to our nation’s defense as well is retaining national test infrastructure and technical staff,” he said. “We must ensure we have future test infrastructure and will be able to support continued American aerospace superiority.”
The ACC team consisted of community leaders and citizens who paid their own expenses for this trip to the nation’s capital to promote AEDC. They visited 20 Congressional offices. The agenda included ways to decrease costs of developing the nation’s most critical aerospace systems; ideas for returning high technology jobs to the United States; improving international competitiveness to the U.S. aerospace service sector; embracing necessary future consolidations and helping the U.S. Congress win support for better and less expensive ways of doing business in the federal sector.
Former AEDC commander and previous ACC president, retired Gen. Mike Wiedemer, said AEDC can be used to make new military systems more cost-effective.
“I know AEDC can be used to help reduce the nation’s debt by further decreasing the development costs of commercial and military systems,” he said. “AEDC is a one-stop center for ground development test and can be used more often to improve the nation’s balance of trade for the aerospace industry. We want elected officials to remember AEDC as the premier one-stop center for aerospace development test and if there is a future BRAC, consider locating additional missions here.”
A highlight of the trip is always the ACC Breakfast for elected officials and staffers. This year the event was hosted by Congressman Scott DesJarlais and Congressman Diane Black, the Antelope Valley Board of Trade, the Arnold Community Council and Edwards AFB Civ-Mil Support Group. Senator Bob Corker was an Honorary Host.
Mark Williams, ACC legislative affairs chair and Mike Niederhauser, ACC community relations and public service chair, did much of the planning for the trip, including the breakfast.
“We obviously set up visits with the Tennessee, Maryland and California delegations, said Williams, “but we also wanted to try something new this year and target the Armed Services Committee members to make sure they are all aware of the important work being done at AEDC.”
ATA General Manager Steve Pearson said he was impressed by the ACC’s commitment to AEDC.
“They took their time and devoted personal resources to the effort to support AEDC, and I greatly appreciate that,” Pearson said. “It is heartwarming to know there are folks who see the past, current and future greatness of AEDC. The people making this trip are as impressive as the people we visited in D.C.”
“I believe this trip was one of the most successful the ACC has made,” said ACC President Temple Bowling. “The idea of a Defense Test and Training Range Caucus was well received by the Congressional delegations. Just as important was our meeting with the folks from Edwards’s civilian communities. We have begun building an excellent relationship and look forward to working together to support both AEDC and Edwards.”
This is the eighth year for the ACC trip to visit Congress. To learn more about the ACC or to view the complete briefing presented to Congressional officials, go to www.arnoldcommunitycouncil.com.