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Leaders address Air Force in BRAC process

  • Published
  • By Army Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
  • American Forces Press Service
Defense Department leaders told the Base Realignment and Closure Commission July 18 why certain military facilities are not included in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's May 13 recommendations.

Commissioners were here to continue their deliberations after visiting military bases nationwide in recent weeks being considered for closure or realignment.

Michael Wynne, deputy undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, provided details on several bases in question.

The Navy examined alternatives for an east coast master jet base. Moody Air Force Base, Ga., appeared as a "feasible alternative,” Mr. Wynne said. But the base had a number of factors that made it less desirable, including "significant one-time military construction costs," he said. The Navy decided to retain Naval Air Station Oceana, Va., because it was the "most suitable option.

Mr. Wynne said the department considered building a new 21st century master jet base, but such action would occur "outside the BRAC window and BRAC time frame."

"Moody is a World War II vintage air base. About a half-billion dollars in military construction would be required there," said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert F. Willard.

"Sharing Moody with the Air Force with the inability to bring the entire wing from Oceana there is not a cost effective alternative," he said.

In addition, the admiral said Oceana provides a significant advantage because it is close to the naval fleet berthed in nearby Norfolk, Va.

"We felt strongly that any alternative would have to continue to serve the fleet from a military-value standpoint effectively," he said.

Gen. T. Michael Moseley, recently confirmed as the next Air Force chief of staff, said the Defense Department's decision to retain Moody was a good decision. He said Moody, near the U.S. Army Infantry Center at Fort Benning, Ga., will allow battlefield and expeditionary combat Airmen to partner with land component forces better, and "to maximize warfighting capabilities and jointness."

Mr. Wynne told commissioners that "jointness was a key goal" to many of Secretary Rumsfeld's recommendations on which bases to close or realign. For example, he said Pope AFB, N.C., was realigned rather than closed so the Army could relocate Forces Command headquarters there from Fort McPherson, Ga.

He said the base will allow for joint training opportunities between Airmen and Soldiers and provide airlift for troops stationed at adjacent Fort Bragg, N.C.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wynne said Grand Forks AFB, N.D., another base the department wants to keep open, was realigned rather than closed to ensure continued strategic presence in the north-central United States and to support the department's emerging unmanned aerial vehicle mission.

Mr. Wynne told commissioners the secretary's recommendations will make the department "stronger, more capable and more effective."

He said department leaders will ensure final recommendations are "fair, and consistent with the selection criterion and force structure plan and will in fact increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our military infrastructure."

Secretary Rumsfeld recommended closing 33 major bases and realigning 29 other major bases out of a total of 318 bases. The nine-person commission panel must send its recommendations on closures and realignments to the president by Sept. 8.

The president will have until Sept. 23 to accept or reject the recommendations in their entirety. If accepted, Congress will have 45 legislative days to reject the recommendations in their entirety or they become binding on the department.