Jessica Wehrman in our Washington Bureau is reporting that
Rep. Mike Turner is the newest president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
And he says it’s a job that has direct ties to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
“From the development and acquisition of programs being managed with the F-35 to our research labs and our intel facilities at Wright-Patterson, on a day to day basis, the people at Wright-Patterson are working with NATO,” he said. “With each of these parliamentarians, they have someone in their military who is working with someone Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.”
Turner, R-Dayton, was elected president of the assembly last week, a one-year term that can be renewed another year. He has headed the U.S. delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly since 2011, but has served in the Parliamentary Assembly since the 111th Congress, which began in 2009.
The Parliamentary Assembly is an organization affiliated with NATO comprised of representatives of all the parliaments and legislatures of the 28 member states. The assembly takes up and debates issues of policy and disseminates those debates to their home parliaments.
Turner succeeds Hugh Bayley, a British member of Parliament who served the last two years.
He takes his new role during a turbulent time for NATO: They’re increasingly dealing with a hostile Russia, wrestling with the fact that many nation’s defense budgets are underfunded and working to respond to threats of terrorism in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.
“This is an exciting time to hold this position,” he said. “Because people had begun to question NATO’s relevance, and today you can’t turn on the TV or open the newspaper and not see the threats that the U.S. and NATO are addressing that go right to the heart of our national security.”
One of the main goals he has as president is to urge European countries to better fund defense. Europe has fallen short of their spending goals and the United States, already battling its own defense cuts, is “feeling the pressure,” he said.
“Europe has underfunded defense and sent the United States the bill for a number of years,” he said, saying that the Parliamentary Assembly must determine how NATO can function and survive during an era when there is so much pressure to cut spending on security.
Turner, who served as mayor of Dayton from 1994 to 2002, was first elected to Congress in 2003. He is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reforms and will retain those roles despite his new responsibilities.
Turner is the 11th American to lead the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
He said his role will have an impact on both Ohio and his district.
“This is about keeping America safe and NATO is our most important and largest alliance,” he said. “Making certain that that alliance works and is serving our national security interests is incredibly important.”