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Posted: 8/24/2005 7:41:57 AM EDT
Which makes perfect sense. It was moronic to close the sub base next door to Electric Boat.


Link to Story


Texas, Connecticut Spared Base Closings By LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writer
43 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - The commission weighing the Pentagon's plan to restructure hundreds of U.S. military bases on Wednesday spared an Army depot in Texas and a submarine base in Connecticut from being shut down.

However, as it began final voting Wednesday with lightning speed, the panel agreed with Pentagon proposals to close several other major bases elsewhere and approved most of the recommendations made by the Army and the Navy. Many were changes at relatively small facilities.

The nine-member panel chose to keep open the Red River Army Depot in Texas and Submarine Base New London in Connecticut, against the Pentagon's wishes.

The panel sided with the Pentagon in voting to close other major Army bases — Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson in Georgia, Fort Monroe in Virginia, Army Garrison Selfridge in Michigan and Fort Monmouth in New Jersey.

The panel also signed off on closing nearly 400 Army Reserve and National Guard facilities in dozens of states, creating instead new joint centers.

Most of the Army's proposal was approved in minutes and as a package before the commission moved on to the fate of Navy bases.

Commissioners had said changes to the Pentagon's proposal were likely before they send their final report next month to President Bush, who could make his own changes. Congress also will get the chance to approve a joint resolution rejecting the plan after Bush considers it. Lawmakers haven't done that in previous rounds.

Before voting started, Chairman Anthony Principi said reviewing the proposal to close or shrink hundreds of bases set a daunting and unprecedented challenge for commissioners.

"The commission went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the soundness, correctness and integrity of the base realignment and closure process and to fulfill our commitment to transparency, honesty and fairness for all," said Principi, a former Veterans Affairs secretary.

He said the task was especially difficult because Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's proposal included more than double the recommendations in the four previous rounds of base closings combined.

Opening at least three days of final deliberations on which bases to spare and which to scrap, Principi said the commission recognizes that closing bases is necessary to save money and transform the military to meet new challenges.

"At the same time, we know that the decisions we reach will have a profound impact on the communities hosting our military installations, and more importantly, on the people who bring those communities to life," he said.

To reject a recommendation, the commission had to find that the Pentagon substantially deviated from criteria that focuses mainly on the military value of each facility.

Previous commissions — in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995 — altered about 15 percent of what the Pentagon proposed as it sought to get rid of bases considered no longer needed. But analysts say the current environment — including the emphasis on homeland security since Sept. 11, 2001 — make it difficult to predict just what the commission will change.

"It's not about just trying to get rid of excess capacity. It's actually about trying to reorganize the forces for future challenges," said Loren Thompson, a military analyst with the Lexington Institute, a think tank in Arlington, Va.

On Tuesday, Rumsfeld was optimistic his plan would remain largely intact, predicting the commission would endorse "the overwhelming majority" of his recommendations.

The Pentagon proposed closing or consolidating a record 62 major military bases and 775 smaller installations to save $48.8 billion over 20 years, streamline the services and reposition the armed forces to face current threats. It's the first such effort in a decade to reconfigure domestic military bases and the most ambitious by far.

Announced in May, the proposal set off intense lobbying by communities fearful that the closures and downsizings would hurt their economies and by politicians worried they would be blamed by voters for job losses.

In the months since, commissioners reviewing the plan have voiced serious concerns about several parts of it, including the Pentagon's estimate of how much money will be saved.

The most contentious issues have been the Air Force's proposal to strip aircraft from about two dozen Air National Guard facilities and the Navy's efforts to scale back its forces in New England.

Commissioners fear those proposals could hamper homeland security, a contention the Pentagon rejects.

The Air Force's attempt to close Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota, home to freshman Republican Sen. John Thune, has stirred the most political consternation. Thune argued during the 2004 campaign that he — not Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle — would be in a better position to save the facility.

The panel must send its final proposal to Bush by Sept. 8. The president can accept the report or order the commission to make changes.

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