Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Arlington, Va.-based Lexington Institute — someone who is familiar with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — said a greater reliance on air power in that theater may strengthen the base.
RELATED: AFRL partnership finds downtown home
Wright-Patterson is where the Air Force’s logistics efforts, and much of its research work, is anchored. The base is also Ohio’s largest single-site employer, with about 27,000 civilian employees and military personnel with a direct payroll of $2.2 billion and an estimated $4.3 billion total regional economic impact.
“Wright-Patt is the nerve center for all Air Force weapons purchases,” Thompson said. “That means it will preside over the buying of munitions, such as smart bombs, for the fight.”
He does not expect Trump’s announcement to necessarily entail a “big boost” for Air Force requirements. But he added: “Clearly, air power is one advantage we have that few other countries — really, no other countries — can match. So it’s the logical foot to lead with, if you aren’t going to leave (Afghanistan).
He compared the war in Afghanistan to the one in Vietnam, when Americans saw that the war would go on for a “long time,” and they wanted locals to do the fighting.
“Trump probably will try to avoid suffering a military defeat, which is what would happen if the U.S. pulled out entirely,” Thompson said.
But he believes the president also wants to remove as many troops out of the line of fire as possible. “So that points to air power as the most obvious option.”
Added Thompson: “I think Trump knows that victory is not likely.”
The Afghan government suffers from widespread corruption, he said. “For that reason, that Taliban retains a lot of support among the people.”
From the start, Wright-Patterson has supported the war in Afghanistan in multiple ways, supporting the Air Force inventory there, mobilizing airmen from the 445th Airlift Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit, and other actions.
A message seeking comment was sent to a base spokesman.
As of last October, there have been nearly 2,400 U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan.