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Panel seeks more information about base closures
Scripps Howard News Service


July 06, 2005

WASHINGTON - More military facilities could be added to the 2005 list of recommended base closures.

The chairman of the base-closure commission has asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for more information on about a dozen installations, which is the first step in possibly adding them to the list.

The panel is spending the summer evaluating the Pentagon's May recommendations to close 33 major bases and realign hundreds more.

The commission has the power to remove bases from the list and add bases. But if the nine-member board is going to add facilities, it is required by law to first get the Pentagon's explanation as to why a facility originally was spared.

On Friday, chairman Anthony Principi sent Rumsfeld a letter asking for those explanations. Requests for information are important to the bases in question, as the cities threatened by closure try to get off the list, and towns that thought they were safe now could find their facilities on the chopping block.

For example, commissioners are asking why the Pentagon did not consider moving assets to the slated-for-closure Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico - which could breathe new life into the small host community of Clovis's fight for survival.

Still, it will be difficult to get a base added - seven of the nine members would have to approve the addition. But only five have to agree to remove a base.

For states not mentioned, it was a temporary sigh of relief in what has already been a busy period defending targeted bases.

"We're obviously pleased no additional Texas bases are on the additional recommendation list to be closed," said Chris Paulitz, a spokesman for Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who is trying to defend a half-dozen sites already mentioned for closure or significant realignment.

The panel asked questions about:

- Why the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego was not recommended for closure and consolidated with Marine Corps recruit training facilities at Parris Island, S.C.?

- Why was Naval Shipyard Pearl Harbor not closed? Why couldn't its ship depot repair functions be realigned to Naval Shipyard Norfolk in Virginia; Naval Shipyard Portsmouth in Maine; and Naval Shipyard Puget Sound in Washington state?

- Why was Naval Air Station Brunswick in Maine realigned instead of closed?

- Why was the Navy Broadway Complex in San Diego not closed, and its missions moved to Naval Station San Diego?

- What consideration was given to the realignment of the Master Jet Base located at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia to Moody Air Force Base in Georgia? Was realignment of assets at Moody to Cannon AFB, N.M., considered? If not, why?

- Why are there two forward operating bases in Alaska? Was any consideration given to consolidating the Galena and Eielson Air Force bases there?

- Why wasn't Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina recommended for closure, instead of realignment?

- Why wasn't Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota recommended for closure instead of realignment?

- Why weren't language and technology schools in Monterey, Calif., and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, consolidated?

- Why weren't four leased office-space sites in Washington, D.C., and Virginia that currently house military medical facilities consolidated?

- Why were certain defense accounting offices at Buckley Annex in Colorado, in Columbus, Ohio, and in Indianapolis kept open while all others were closed?

Principi also asked the Pentagon whether governors were consulted in the significant overhaul of Air National Guard sites, and what impact the moves will have on homeland security. Several governors have questioned what impact the maneuvers might have on their homeland-defense readiness.


E-mail Tara Copp at CoppT(at)

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