Monday, May 16, 2005

Community Support for Travis AFB Key to BRAC

Article Last Updated: Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 08:55:45 pm PDT

Community Support for Travis AFB Key to BRAC

By Kevin O'Rourke

The Secretary of Defense's recommendation to retain Travis Air Force Base as a cornerstone in our nation's military mobility posture was gratefully welcomed by area leaders. While Travis' future is not set in concrete until the Base Closure and Realignment Commission's recommendations are made and accepted by the president, there is good reason to rejoice. This was the biggest hurdle.

The Secretary validated what Travis proponents said all along: Travis is vital to our rapid mobility needs in the current era. Its strategic location, unique capabilities and critical infrastructure enable it to very effectively perform these missions.

There are other reasons to rejoice.

For the first time in BRAC rounds, all the members of the California congressional delegation were unified in support of California bases and the rich contributions they offer.Our district Congressional representatives on both sides of the aisle, over several decades, were very successful in securing military construction projects and infrastructure improvements that addressed areas of deficiencies in earlier BRAC evaluations. Our current Congressional representative, Ellen Tauscher, is no exception and has worked hard to maintain Travis in our community.

At the state level, the Governor's Council on Base Support and Retention gathered and prepared the data to make the case for Travis and other California military bases. The governor and our state legislative representatives were actively engaged in efforts to support the base.
At the regional and local level, unified support was plentiful, consistent and focused. The Travis Community Consortium comprised of Solano County, its seven cities, the Solano Economic Development Corporation, the Solano Community College, the Travis Unified School District and Travis Regional Armed Forces Committee pooled their talents, time, energy and money. Members of the consortium were able to bring focus and resolution to an inadequate Base Housing Allowance for military members living in nearby civilian communities. Members made numerous lobbying trips to Washington with a consistent unified message of the need to meet Travis' mission and mission support needs such as new on-base housing and construction to accommodate the newest cargo airlifter, the C-17.Local planners and elected officials worked with the base to mitigate incompatible development, easement and environmental obstacles.Chambers of Commerce, other business groups, affiliated military organizations' service clubs, churches and neighbors daily accepted and supported both military members and their families. This was especially meaningful as more and more of our members were deployed overseas.

The Consortium would also like to thank our corporate sponsors for their role in helping the TCC carry out its efforts to improve and enhance the military value of Travis Air Force Base through interaction with the Congressional delegation and the Department of the Air Force. Corporate sponsors include Lewis Operating Corporation, KB Home, A. G. Spanos Companies, Citation Northern, Copart, Inc., Silverwing Development, The Hofmann Company, Travis Credit Union, Davidon Homes, Miller-Sorg Group and Rivendale Homes.

The Consortium wishes to thank the many people in our communities who contributed to the viability of Travis AFB. You have made a tremendous difference and we are deeply grateful to you.

Kevin O'Rourke is executive director of the Travis Community Consortium and Fairfield's city manager.

Travis saved!

From Washington to Sacramento and points closer to home, those who have been fighting for Travis Air Force Base could stand at ease Friday for the first time in a long time. The local base did not appear on a highly anticipated federal base closure list, ending years of speculation about what would happen if the county's biggest economic engine were to be shut down….

All told, California could lose fewer than 3,000 military personnel and about 5,700 civilian jobs. In contrast, previous rounds cost the state nearly 93,500 jobs and $10 billion in annual revenues. "We think that Travis and Solano County should be celebrating, and the state of California should be celebrating," said Kevin O'Rourke…. Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine said that the trend of this round of closures seemed to be that of consolidation, with no attempt to shut down important operational bases like Travis, which is a West Coast anchor for airlift and refeuling…. Travis is not scheduled to receive new missions as part of the process for Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). Supervisor Mike Reagan, however, said that Travis' future still looks bright. A squadron of C-17s are headed to Travis in 2006, planned apart from BRAC. Also, downsizing of facilities like a San Diego medical center eventually could create gains at the local base, which is home to the David Grant Medical Center, he said. Reagan applauded a "unified" effort to lobby for Travis Air Force Base and the rest of California's military installations. "All the stars became aligned," he said. "The state became unified, the Congressional delegation became unified ... and the community has always been unified."…

Travis spared closing - Officials happy air base avoids Pentagon's budget-cutting move

The conventional wisdom surrounding the highly anticipated U.S. Department of Defense base closure plan was this: A facility either will be closed or it will grow larger. Turns out, however, that neither scenario is planned for Travis Air Force Base…. When the U.S. Department of Defense broached plans for the current round of base closures, federal leaders called for up to 25 percent of the nation's military capacity to be shuttered. However, of the some 320 major bases across the nation, only 33 - or about 10 percent - now are targeted for closure. The more minimal BRAC will create less need for large bases like Travis Air Force Base to accept the leavings of others, said county Supervisor Mike Reagan. "We didn't see the gains I had expected, at least not yet,'' Reagan said. Reagan, a former lieutenant colonel at Travis, was reading through a voluminous BRAC narrative Friday to begin his look into what bases could be closed, which are scheduled to be realigned, where the missions could be headed and, most importantly, why…. But that's for later. For now, Travis advocates will settle for the silence. "No news is good news," Reagan said. "There is good news at Travis and good news at Beale."

Travis not on BRAC list -- Base supporters say it's still too early to celebrate

Travis Air Force Base is not on the Pentagon's base closure list, but don't pop the champagne corks yet. "The Base Realignment and Closure process is a long one and this is just an early stage," Rep. Ellen Tauscher said. Travis' legion of supporters got the word early Friday morning minutes after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld released his list of recommended base closures and realignments…. "That falls into line with what the Travis Community Consortium has been saying," O'Rourke said. "The importance of Travis has been underscored by the War on Terror. Afghanistan was the first war supplied completely by air." Solano County Supervisor Mike Reagan called the decision to leave Travis off the list "validation of all the hard work that all the military (and) local government have been doing for the last 10-15 years." "A lot of the shortcomings listed from the previous BRACs on Travis were addressed,"… "We need to keep an eye on the BRAC process. (Commission Chairman Anthony) Principe said the commission is not going to be a rubber stamp," Reagan said….

Travis safe from BRAC . . . for now

The real celebrating won't occur until this fall, but Friday's announcement that Travis Air Force Base was excluded from the Pentagon's targeted list of bases to close had most everyone in Solano County smiling. The list, which recommends shuttering about 180 military facilities around the country, including 33 major bases, still must go through Base Realignment and Closure Commission hearings by Sept. 8, then be approved by both Congress and President Bush. Chances that Travis could somehow wiggle its way onto the list is remote.

Members of the Travis Community Consortium were jubilant and very appreciative of the efforts not only in Solano County but by representatives in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento…. The importance of Travis' mission was obviously recognized by the Pentagon and its exclusion from the list solidifies its placement as one of the more strategic bases in the Air Force. Next year, the base will become home to the first of several C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, the first signs of a significant mission enhancement for Travis. Along with the aircraft will be more than $150 million in improvements to the base. The announcement Friday didn't include any other news of additional activity at the base…. The consortium should be proud of its efforts during the last couple of years. But it shouldn't relax until the recommendations are sealed. Continue the full-court press, but keep the champagne chilled. There will be a celebration.

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