Monday, March 14, 2005

Upgrades, community backing improve Travis' chances in coming round of base closures

Article Launched: 03/13/2005 08:34:04 AM

Making the case
Upgrades, community backing improve Travis' chances in coming round of base closures

By Bud Ross

Efforts by the Travis Community Consortium to bolster public awareness of Travis Air Force Base's strategic military value in the upcoming round of Defense Department's Base Realignment and Closures, or BRAC, are being rightly recognized by our community.

A little know fact is that the Travis Community Consortium is really the culmination of a 15- to 20-year quest to improve base facilities and missions. The dramatic makeover of the base during this time is due largely to local business, civic and elected officials. Working with elected representatives in Washington, D.C., they got military construction projects funded and completed.

The Travis Community Consortium is comprised of Solano County, its seven cities, the Economic Development Corporation, Solano Community College, and the Travis Regional Armed Forces Committee. It funds and executes efforts to improve Travis' chances in the upcoming round of BRAC.

Not only is the organization prepared to make the case before the commission in the event the base is nominated by Department of Defense or the commission itself, the Travis Community Consortium is there to make the case for Travis getting new missions from bases reduced under BRAC.

The Travis Community Consortium prepared a strong case in January to the newly formed Governor's Base Support and Retention Commission chaired by Leon Panetta, former U.S. representative from California and the former White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton. It armed the state commission with ammunition to make the case to keep Travis and other state installations off the BRAC list. Among the points made:

Strategic location: Poised to meet the new challenges of the Pacific Rim, Travis remains at the center of intermodal transportation hubs like the ports of Oakland and Stockton, has ready access to Interstate 80, I-505 and I-5, and is near major intercontinental rail heads and international passenger and cargo airfields in San Francisco, Oakland and Sacramento.

Travis can quickly support the movement of West Coast military and Homeland Defense units, including National Guard and Reserve.

Infrastructure improvements: Deteriorating and difficult-to-maintain buildings have been replaced by scores of newer, energy efficient facilities. A modern control tower and radar approach control facility have been built. New aircraft operations and maintenance facilities have gone up.

The underground petroleum refueling system has been and continues to be upgraded by the Defense Department.

Modern on-base housing has been built and older substandard houses razed. More than 1 million square feet of obsolete temporary buildings have been removed, enabling site planning and construction of new missions on base.

New missions: The newest air lifter, the C-17 Globemaster, soon will call Travis home when a squadron beds down here. Important Navy and Army units are located here.

Additional missions capacity: The factors cited above make Travis well suited to accommodate additional Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security missions. Indeed, they are natural fits.

There is ample real estate and excellent infrastructure support. Rapid mobility capability makes Travis a perfect location to house fast-response teams like those from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Army and Air Force Guard and Reserve units, which need to be at the action point the soonest.

There are also great opportunities to combine Defense Logistic Agency operations closer to the where the "rubber meets the ramp." Ample munitions storage areas formerly used to support Fort Ord can readily accommodate combat-arms units.

Unimpeded operations: There are ample air training routes that are unencumbered. A portion of the land east of the base, formerly known as the Wilcox Ranch, was purchased by the county and the city of Fairfield from the Nature Conservatory through an agreement that calls for the land to continue to be used for agriculture until such time as it is needed for expansion of the base.

Development land-use restrictions around the base are in place to ensure there is no incompatible development that would jeopardize its operations. Moreover, there is adequate expansion capability in the Travis Reserve to accommodate additional base housing and administrative and logistics facilities, should it be needed. With the San Francisco Bay Area's recent improvements in air quality, there also should be little difficulty in getting additional air emission credits for new missions.

Homeland Security: After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the base became the platform for fighter aircraft protecting the skies over the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento and the Silicon Valley.

State and federal relief efforts for Northern California's major earthquakes or man-made disasters will likely focus on Travis. Its emergency response capability is virtually unmatched.

Unlike many California hospitals, David Grant Medical Center on Travis was built to withstand earthquakes.

Community support: Lastly, Travis enjoys strong community support and is considered part of the community in all aspects. Community support and involvement by Travis personnel as part of our community have been long-standing, not just a recent occurrence.

This month the BRAC's nine commissioners will be named. For communities with nearby military bases, the selections will be of great interest.

By May 16, the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld will make his recommendations. The BRAC Commission will hold numerous hearings in Washington, D.C., as well as regional hearings. They may add to the Defense Department's list and its final recommendation will be made by Sept. 8. President George W. Bush will approve or disapprove the list by Sept. 23.

Two decades of community and congressional support have clearly strengthened Travis' prospects.

• The author, chairman of the Travis Regional Armed Forces Committee, is a retired Air Force officer and former president and chief executive officer of the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce.

Solano's Got It!

Solano's Got It!
The Best That Northern California Has To Offer.

Blog Archive