Monday, April 11, 2005

First statewide effort to fend off any military base closures includes Travis AFB

Article Last Updated: Saturday, Apr 09, 2005 - 12:14:22 am PDT

Commission makes case for state bases

By Ian Thompson

FAIRFIELD - Stick together and hammer home the story that California is a strong partner for the military and its system of bases here.That is the bottom-line message from the California Council on Base Support and Retention's report released Friday on how to keep the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission from closing bases in the state.

Travis Community Consortium representative Sherry McDonald described the report as ammunition that Gov. Schwarzenegger and the state's Congressional representatives can use when he deals with commissioners."The next step is sending this from the governor to the BRAC commission, to the Department of Defense and our Congressional delegation," Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan said.

The report comes out at a time when the commission is already getting its staff in place to receive the list of bases the Department of Defense wants to close.
California may have a better chance than it had before because two of the recently appointed commissioners are from this state, McDonald said. Its recommendations for defending the state's bases are what local communities and groups such as the Travis Community Consortium have long supported.

"I didn't see anything I didn't know before," Reagan said. "It is historic that California has gotten its act together before the BRAC begins."The report points out the state's bases are mutually supportive and more valuable together, a point the Pentagon may have missed when it did its base-by-base analysis last year, Reagan said.

These include presenting a clear vision of the state's "unique and irreplaceable role in national defense;" improving support for military needs; working with other states in the Southwest to promote California's regional military value; expanding the state's lead in defense research and military contracting; providing help to local communities threatened by any proposed base closures; and helping those communities through reuse should the base close.

Travis Air Force Base only got a brief mention. It was described as protected from encroachment, with good access to National Guard and Reserve units and critical to carrying American forces across the Pacific.

The report also cautioned about the state's weak points saying "that California's military value is not well understood" outside the state. "The state is a strong partner, but stories about encroachment, environmental constraints and the high cost of labor and living have not done the state any favors," the report stated. "The mere perception of these concerns is sufficient grounds for action. The state can do more to become a better partner and host for the military and national security industries," the report stated.

This is the first statewide effort to fend off any closures after enduring three previous base closure rounds in the late 1980s and 1990s which closed 29 bases here. "California leadership has not been unified enough with regard to California bases," the report said of past efforts to save bases.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

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