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National Association of Installation Developers Conference
Remarks as Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy de Leon, Doubletree Hotel, Monterey, California, Tuesday, August 08, 2000

President [Peter] Smith of California State University, thank you very much for those kind words. I was able to participate this morning at the conveyance at Fort Ord, which probably reflects a decade of work. I was there for part of the takeoff and definitely there for the middle. I'm surprised to see Rob Leonard [Director of Military Base Conversation, County of Sacramento] here because I was recounting with [Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Installations] Randall Yim on the ride back from Fort Ord Rob Leonard’s stories about Mather Air Force Base and McClellan [Air Force Base]. But I think how much BRAC [Base Closure and Realignment] has been part of our experience in the '90s and how much we have accomplished together and yet how much there still is to do.

Is Joe Cavanaugh [former Director, Fort Ord Reuse Authority] here? I just want to say what an excellent document [recognizing conveyance of designated Fort Ord property to Fort Ord Reuse Authority] this is. This is the peace dividend -- defense conversion to higher education. It's really the case study of Fort Ord. It was produced by the Panetta Institute. A person in my job is always reading the "lessons learned" chapters. But just going through and looking at a lot of his chapters, you start by recounting that Cabinet meeting in mid-1993 where President Clinton, having been a Governor and having experienced BRAC in his home state said, "We've got to change the way we do our business." So many of the things that have changed have been as a result of that Cabinet meeting back in 1993, especially the completely different spirit of working with communities.

I know we have Randall Yim, and I also understand that [Principal] Deputy Assistant Secretary Ray Clark of the Army [Installations & Environment], and soon to be Under Secretary of the Navy Robin Perie are also here. But if I could just ask all of the DoD people to stand for just a second. [Applause.] I can't tell you how many hours that these folks have spent on these issues, probably as many hours as you have in your own local community.

As I explained this morning, we're in the middle of the Defense Resources Board POM [Program Objective Memorandums] sessions with the Joint Chiefs [of Staff] on the 2002 budget that will be presented to Congress next year. It is my 26th budget, and in that time I have worked every conceivable type of defense issue, from pay raises for the troops, to the acquisition of special access programs, to the authorization to use force in Desert Storm, to the readiness issues of Kosovo and Bosnia.

There's not an issue that is more difficult to deal with at a policy level than BRAC. For generations we've had roots in the communities that suddenly go through BRAC process decisions to close those bases. I remember being with then-Chief of Staff of the Air Force Ron Fogleman in 1995 and he talked about how we had had our roots in these communities and how in this critical period of transition it was essential for us to maintain some kind of connection with communities that had been so valuable to the nation. Our current Defense Secretary, Bill Cohen, also knows first-hand from his home community in Bangor, Maine, of Loring Air Force Base and the experience there.

So this period of the '90s has really been an incredible one of challenge. So when Leon Panetta asked me to come out here and to be part of this conference, I certainly accepted the chance to spend a little bit of time with you today.

To Jeffrey Simon the President of NAID, I want to thank you for your leadership in bringing everybody together because this is a critical process and I think communication is at the heart of solving problems. So I want to thank you very much for that.

I am, as was said earlier, a California native, and I'm always pleased to have the opportunity to return here, even to this part of California, even if my natural colors are Dodger blue rather than the red and gold of the 49ers. Sometimes Easterners have a skewed view of our home state. Secretary Cohen is from Maine, and he's fond of quoting a historian, Peter Vale, who once said, "Rejoice my friends or weep in sorrow, what California is today, the world will be tomorrow." [Laughter.]

I think we saw a little bit of that at Fort Ord, just as I've seen that at Greater Kelly Re-Use [Authority] in San Antonio. What we really are seeing is how we can move beyond the pain of BRAC to forge new relationships in our communities.

I'm particularly pleased to be here because the work of this conference is extremely important to the mission of the Department of Defense. You've heard and will continue to hear from many experts on the nuts and bolts of installation development. However, I would like to take a step back to talk about why the work you do is so essential and why it will be just as essential in the years ahead, and particularly how your work fits into the larger picture of our national security strategy after a great decade of change.

We live in a global security environment far different from the one that existed when the BRAC process started in 1988. A decade ago the Cold War came to an end and the equilibrium of the superpowers has been replaced by a host of regional rivalries where our world can be just as dangerous and every bit as complex: festering ethnic violence as we had in Kosovo and Bosnia that endangers the stability of vital regions such as Europe; freelance terrorists who seek American targets the world over, including our troops and our embassies; frightening weapons spreading to nations marked by fanaticism or instability; and the growing list of nations and groups that seek or have access to chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Indeed, our military planners have to contend not only with the possibility of troops crossing borders, but with a vial of anthrax slipping through customs; not only bombers flying over cities, but with chemicals released beneath them.

To meet these threats we have been transforming our military forces. We began in the 1990s with a force designed to contend with a single aggressor. We are now in the midst of molding our military to this ever-changing landscape of threats; not only adapting to the new environment, but making ourselves flexible enough to keep pace with future change.

For example, the Navy, through its Fleet Battle Experiment, is dramatically improving the capabilities of its ships and aircraft, increasing striking power by tying them together in what we call network-centric warfare. The Air Force is transforming itself into an expeditionary force and integrating our air and space operations for optimum force projection. The Marines continue to revolutionize their capabilities by honing their skills in urban warfare. And the Army is embarked on a path of transformation that's going to profoundly enhance and speed mobility and lethality of our soldiers.

So as the force transforms, so must all of us who support it. Our support infrastructure and our military base structure should be conformed to the needs of our national security. That is why we are fundamentally changing how we conduct our business and financial practices at the department through the Defense Reform Initiative.

The military revolution of the magnitude just described requires increased funding. That is one of the reasons that President Clinton and Secretary Cohen, in cooperation with the Congress, has increased defense spending. In recent years we have increased the investment in the men and women of the armed forces and their equipment, reversing a 13-year decline in procurement, increasing pay and benefits, and inaugurating the first long term, sustained increase in military spending in over 15 years.

That's also why the work you are doing is so important. Base closure and realignment, painful as it is, is key to providing both the funds and the flexibility we need to achieve our goals. You, better than anyone else, know the story of BRAC's past: tough decisions, communities frightened, but ultimately billions of dollars saved and communities not only recovering, but in many cases, turning a page into the future and flourishing.

Monterey, as everyone in this community knows, has experienced BRAC first-hand. For nearly a century, this community and, indeed, this entire region, have supported the men and women who have kept America free. On this ground, America's soldiers trained to fight in the great battles of World War II -- and I might add Korea and Vietnam as well -- at places like Fort Ord and Camp McQuade. From these shores and other locations on this coast, our soldiers, sailors airmen and Marines shipped out by the tens of thousands to trials and triumphs across the wide Pacific. Indeed, so many who would find themselves at battlefields that are now part of our history left from this very peaceful spot that today we turn back to the local community.

At every step along that historic path the people of this part of California gave of themselves to support our troops. In the greatest contest between freedom and tyranny, this state was the great launching pad for the forces of freedom, and for that, the nation owes the state and the community a great debt of gratitude. But [we also owe regions like this] our full support, as they make the transition to an economy less dependent on military facilities.

I must say that this region has made enormous progress since the BRAC process began more than a decade ago. Through a creative and dynamic local partnership, Monterey is moving in new and very exciting directions, creating jobs, diversifying its economy, and improving the quality of life for the people of this area.

Perhaps the most exciting initiative is the opening of the California State University at Monterey Bay on the former Fort Ord property, as President Smith is here to attest. There is also the new University of California at Santa Cruz Research Center. These new centers of higher learning -- just as Fort Ord in the past launched so many Americans to distant shores -- will help launch today's generation into the challenge, the turmoil and all of the stresses of the 21st Century. And in addition to the economic and educational development, this area's forward looking re-use plan is promoting scenic and environmental goals, with almost half of Fort Ord's remaining property preserved as open space and the coastal weapons ranges becoming part of the California state system.

Perhaps most importantly, the people here are making their own choices about the future. The change and the spirit of challenge here in Monterey and in base closure communities across the country have been vital in maintaining the strength of our armed forces and the quality of life of our service members.

Nationally, as a result of the four previous rounds of BRAC, we have saved some $3.5 billion. And we will save more than $25 billion by the year 2003. It will be spent on fuel for training, for spare parts and new equipment, and for improving the quality of life and the housing for our troops. Indeed, the challenges that our communities that have experienced BRAC go through are part of the investment of our armed forces and our security for the future.

Now, this is a time of great challenge, but I think of the spirit that is embodied in civil servants on our side like my colleague Randall Yim or Secretary Clark or [former] Secretary [of Defense, William] Perry, Paul Dempsey [Director, DoD Office of Economic Adjustment] and all of the others who have worked on re-use issues. What I think we recognize now is that we will be able to work together only if we continue to talk together, and to find the policies and the strategies that will bring jobs and purpose into these facilities.

This is not an easy challenge. I know from my own experiences as Under Secretary of the Air Force the impact BRAC can have. But I also know that from [Senator David] Pryor’s amendment enacted by the Congress that we were able to move in new directions, no longer getting lost in bureaucracy, but rather finding avenues to move together. So Congressman [Sam] Farr and other members of Congress have become so personally involved in the BRAC process. They've become our critical partners to whom we look for support when we're on the right track, and for course correction guidance when occasionally we find ourselves off track.

We've learned through no-cost conveyance that the federal government has taken an enormous step in setting our priorities straight. In fact, that was a direct mandate from President Clinton -- to make sure, as outlined in this fine piece of work, to find ways to turn the property over to local communities as quickly as possible so that meaningful jobs and meaningful re-use in the community could occur.

Under this policy the Department has already approved 12 transfers of property at no cost, and I need to salute the spirit of accomplishment here in Monterey. I've been in other communities where the state government, the county government, and the local government have had different views, and so bringing people together to reconcile those views has been a real challenge.

But because we've transferred the first parcels here at Fort Ord, the Fort Ord Re-Use Authority projects that more than $3 billion will be invested at the site, creating in excess of 18,000 new jobs, far exceeding the 2,800 civilian jobs that were lost when the base was closed. There are other stories like this in Pennsylvania and in Louisiana where we've made that same progress. So the challenge for this new decade and for this new century is to continue to work together and to use the bonds that we have established to continue this progress.

At some point there will probably be more rounds of BRAC, and [we will benefit from] the experiences learned from communities like your own here in California, in Texas, in Maine, in Michigan, in New York and throughout the Midwest. The lessons that we have learned and that have been incorporated into publications like the one that modeled Fort Ord as a case study show that we'll be able to move forward with even greater vision and greater flexibility.

So Jeffrey, I thank you for the chance to be here today. I thank you, President Smith, for the work that you're doing. I thank all of my colleagues from the Department of Defense for the hard work and dedication they bring to this task. And to the local communities, I renew our pledge as a Department from President Clinton, from Secretary Cohen, embodied by former Secretary Perry who spoke here yesterday, that we will continue to do our part, that we will continue to be your partners because our roots are in these communities.

So to Congressman Farr who I saw here somewhere, I just want to thank you for your partnership on behalf of this community and for your work. Thank you for working with us in the Congress and helping us to have the flexibility we need to help this community and other communities around the country move to the next step in their history. I want to thank you, sir, for your assistance.

So to all of you, as you finish this last day of the conference, I look forward to seeing you again, whether it's at the next NAID Conference or wherever there is the next issue that we have to resolve. The lesson is that if we work together, we can open new doors when old ones close. With that, I thank you very much for the chance to be here today. [Applause.]