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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005 Posted on: Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bases in 8 states, D.C. added to BRAC list

By Liz Sidoti
Associated Press


Base Realignment and Closure Commission: www.brac.gov

WASHINGTON — The base-closing commission voted yesterday to add military facilities in eight states and the nation's capital to the hundreds that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld wants to close or shrink.

The Navy Broadway Complex in San Diego and the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, now are on the list of installations to be closed. Under the commission's actions, the Naval Master Jet Base at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia, and Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina could see even more force reductions than the Pentagon proposed, or could be shut down.

Even small facilities were not immune. With an eye on possibly merging administrative, education and medical services, the commission voted to include small installations in Colorado, Ohio, Indiana, California, Virginia, Alaska and Washington, D.C., for consideration.

There was also an attempt to include the closing of Hawai'i's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard on the list, but that failed when it only won a 5-4 favorable vote.

A minimum of seven votes is required to alter the Pentagon's recommendations.

However, the votes that succeeded in adding bases to the list showed the independent commission's willingness to diverge — at least somewhat — from the plan Rumsfeld submitted in May, when he proposed closing or reducing forces at 62 major domestic bases and hundreds of smaller installations from coast to coast.

"This commission knows what it is talking about and is not a rubber stamp. We are an independent check on the power of the secretary to close and realign military bases," commission Chairman Anthony Principi said after the vote.

By adding bases to the list, the commission gave itself more flexibility to change what the Pentagon proposed as it considers shifting pieces of the mammoth domestic base network to better suit today's defense needs.

Earlier, Principi cautioned that adding a base to the list "does not necessarily mean that the base will be realigned or closed" but will allow the panel to further analyze those bases' usefulness by visiting sites, collecting data and holding hearings.

The panel will make final decisions next month about which bases to propose for closing or reductions, with President Bush and Congress making a binding decision in the fall. But the panel's actions yesterday were sure to ignite a new round of lobbying by communities whose military facilities were being targeted.

In a reprieve for some communities, the commission decided against targeting four large bases for closure: the Pearl shipyard; the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego; Moody Air Force Base in Georgia; and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Added to the list were:

  • The Navy Broadway Complex in San Diego, headquarters for Navy operations in the Southwest.

  • The Naval Master Jet Base at Naval Air Station Oceana, where tactical air units are deployed from and trained.

  • Pope Air Force Base, N.C., a site from which joint tactical operations are conducted.

  • The Brunswick air base in Maine, which had been slated for force reductions but now will be considered for closure.

  • Alaska's Galena Airport Forward Operating Location, which serves as an alert base for aircraft.

    At this stage, adding bases to the Pentagon's proposed list of closures or consolidations will allow the commission to conduct public hearings, visit those sites and collect data, in some cases making direct comparisons with bases that perform similar missions and are slated for closure.