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Panel adds bases for closure, realignment consideration

WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted to add several military installations, including Pope Air Force Base, N.C., to a list for closure or realignment considerations during July 19 hearings here.

The previous day, senior Defense Department officials provided testimony before the commission regarding the merits of keeping open various military organizations.

At the start of the July 19 hearing, BRAC Commission chairman Anthony Principi said commissioners might tab more installations for consideration for closure or realignment.

However, "we are not here today to produce a final list of closures and realignments," Mr. Principi said, noting commissioners would not submit a complete list of bases affected by this round of BRAC until late August.

Bases commissioners added to the list during the July 19 hearing for consideration to close or realign include:

-- Pope AFB.

-- Galena Airport Forward Operating Location, Alaska.

-- Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

-- Air Force Medical Command at Bolling AFB, D.C.

-- Defense Finance and Accounting Service facilities at Buckley Annex, Colo.; Columbus, Ohio; and Indianapolis.

-- Naval Postgraduate School and Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif.

-- Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine.

-- Navy Broadway Complex, San Diego.

-- Naval Master Jet Base at NAS Oceana, Va.

-- Bureau of Navy Medicine at Potomac Annex, Washington, D.C.

-- Tricare Management Activity, Office of the Surgeons General Military Departments, and the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, all in Virginia.

During the hearing, commissioners also voted not to place several installations on the list for possible closure or realignment. For example, commissioners voted to exclude Moody AFB, Ga., the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, and the Naval Shipyard in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, from consideration for closure or realignment under the 2005 BRAC Act.

All bases identified for possible realignment or closure will be reviewed before a final commission vote on all BRAC-identified installations is taken in late August.

On May 13, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld submitted his BRAC recommendations that 33 military installations be closed and 29 realigned out of a total of 318 bases. The additional bases identified by the commission for consideration for closure or realignment will be added to the secretary's list, Mr. Principi said.

The commission's additions were not made to second-guess Secretary Rumsfeld's picks, Mr. Principi emphasized, but instead demonstrate the commission's efforts to take a broader view of what other bases may be closed or realigned.

"Our deliberations today may add more bases for further consideration, and consideration only, not because we have determined that we need to realign or close more bases than the secretary of defense has recommended, but because we want to make sure the best possible closure or realignment choices are made consistent with the criteria established in law," Mr. Principi said.

On April 1, President Bush appointed the independent BRAC Commission. Commissioners are obligated to "consider all options" for base closures or realignments, Mr. Principi said.

Under the 2005 BRAC Act, the principle criteria for keeping bases open, or closing or realigning them, is military value.

The nine-person BRAC Commission panel is obligated to send its recommendations to the president by Sept. 8.

The president has until Sept. 23 to accept all recommendations or reject all of them. Congress will have 45 days to accept the president's recommendations or reject them in their entirety. The Defense Department will be obligated to act on all congressionally approved recommendations.


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