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Commission Makes More BRAC Decisions

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2005 – The Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted today to keep open Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., rejecting a Pentagon proposal to close the base and consolidate the Air Force's B-1B Lancer long-ranger bomber aircraft fleet at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

The nine-member BRAC panel also voted to keep Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., open until at least 2009, despite agreeing to relocate its air wing and attached aircraft. The commissioners urged DoD's to try to identify new missions for the base as its air wing and attached aircraft are removed.

The decisions were among the panel's most significant today, as it began its third day of final deliberations on DoD's proposal to reshape military infrastructure and eliminate excess capacity by closing 33 major bases and realigning 29 others.

The panel also voted to realign Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, by moving its undergraduate navigator training to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.

Discussions this afternoon were expected to focus on DoD's proposal to shut down Pope Air Force Base, N.C., turning it into an Army airfield to support Fort Bragg, N.C., and sweeping recommendations to revamp the Air National Guard and consolidate operations.

The commissioners voted Aug. 25 to consolidate 26 Defense Finance and Accounting Service offices into five: in Cleveland; in Limestone, Maine, at the former Loring Air Force Base; in Rome, N.Y., at the former Griffiss Air Force Base; at the Defense Supply Center Columbus, Ohio; in the Bean Federal Center in Indianapolis, at the former Fort Benjamin Harrison; and in Alexandria, Va.

Another Aug. 25 vote would consolidate medical operations in San Antonio, Texas, closing Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base and creating the new San Antonio Regional Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston. As part of that decision, the panel voted to move the dental training school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Kansas, to Fort Sam Houston.

The commission also voted to consolidate operations at three New Jersey posts: Fort Dix, McGuire Air Force Base, and Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst. The recommendation, if approved, will create a single joint base under a central commander at McGuire.

The panel also voted to close Onizuka Air Force Station, Calif.; and Galena Airport Forward Operation Location, Alaska.

Other BRAC panel votes will:

  • Transfer the Army's 4th Infantry Division from Fort Hood, Texas, to Fort Carson, Colo.;
  • Keep the Army Logistics School at Fort Eustis, Va., rather than moving it to Fort Rucker, Ala.;
  • Block the move of active-component combat aircraft from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska;
  • Move thousands of defense jobs from leased space in Northern Virginia to nearby Fort Belvoir, Va., Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., and Fort Meade, Md.; and
  • Stop the move of about 1,000 jobs to Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.
The commission began its final deliberations Aug. 24 in Arlington, Va., and has worked late each night, hoping to wrap up the proceedings late today.

In major actions since Aug. 24, the BRAC commission voted to close:

  • Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., moving most of its mission to the new Walter Reed National Medical Center in nearby Bethesda, Md., current site of the National Naval Medical Center;
  • Fort Monmouth, N.J.;
  • Fort Gillem, Ga.;
  • Fort McPherson, Ga.;
  • Fort Monroe, Va.;
  • U.S. Army Garrison, Selfridge, Mich.;
  • Almost 400 Army Reserve and Army National Guard facilities, creating joint centers;
  • Naval Station Pascagoula, Miss.;
  • Naval Air Station Atlanta, Ga.;
  • Naval Station Ingleside, Texas;
  • Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas; and
  • Brooks City-Base, Texas.

The panel voted to keep open:

  • Submarine Base, New London, Conn.;
  • Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Maine;
  • Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev.;
  • Defense Language Institute, Monterey, Calif.; and
  • Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., establishing a governing board to coordinate education programs between that school and the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
The panel also voted to:

  • Wait until March 31, 2006, before deciding whether to close Oceana Naval Air Station, Va., giving local and state authorities time to make proposed changes to limit residential encroachment on the base;
  • Realign rather than close Red River Army Depot, Texas;
  • Keep the Night Vision Lab at Fort Belvoir, Va., instead of moving it to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.; and
  • Order a study of the practicality of converting a chemical weapons incinerator to incinerate conventional munitions before deciding whether to close Deseret Chemical Depot, Utah.

After wrapping up its deliberations, the panel will send its final report to President Bush by Sept. 8. The president, if he concurs, will send the final list to Congress, which can accept or reject it in its entirety, but not change it.

This week's sessions follow months of hearings around the country regarding DoD's plan, which defense officials say will save some $49 billion over the next 20 years.

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