Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

TOP STORY>> Base closings announcement Friday

IN SHORT: Politicians and community leaders believe the base will survive the latest round of cutbacks and may emerge with more missions after the expected closings and realignments.

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base and local officials, like those across the country, are keeping their fingers crossed, with the Department of Defense due to announce Friday the military bases it is recommending for closing or realigning.

Local officials have said all along that they are cautiously optimistic, but unofficial word from Cong. Vic Snyder’s office is that the base may not only survive the cut list, but may be recommended for additional duties after bases are closed and duties are realigned elsewhere.

Supporters of the air base, which trains and hosts C-130 transport planes, including the new generation C-130Js, say the base has room for additional missions.

Cong. Marion Berry has already said he believes the base will have a greater role in the future.

“The decision’s been made for the list,” Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim said Monday. “We just need to wait.”

Lt. Jon Quinlan, a spokesman at Little Rock Air Force Base, said Tuesday the list will remain a secret until Friday, when the base will hold a press conference once the list of closings is released as expected.

“Even our wing commander doesn’t know who is on the list,” Quinlan said, referring to Brig. Gen. (Select) Joseph Reheiser.

Here is a brief description of the final selection criteria used in making recommendations for the closure or realignment of military installations with priority consideration is to be given to the first four criteria, which involve military value:

1. The current and future mission capabilities and the impact on operational readiness of the Department of Defense’s total force, including the impact on joint war fighting, training and readiness.

2. The availability and condition of land, facilities and associated airspace (including training areas suitable for maneuver by ground, naval or air forces throughout a diversity of climate and terrain areas and staging areas for the use of the armed forces in homeland defense missions) at both existing and potential receiving locations.

3. The ability to accommodate contingency, mobilization and future total force requirements at both existing and potential receiving locations to support operations and training.

4. The cost of operations and the manpower implications.

Other considerations include:

- The extent and timing of potential costs and savings, including the number of years, beginning with the date of completion of the closure or realignment, for the savings to exceed the costs.

- The economic impact on existing communities near military installations.

- The ability of both the existing and potential receiving communities’ infrastructure to support forces, missions and personnel.

- The environmental impact, including the impact of costs related to potential environmental restoration, waste management, and environmental compliance activities.

Important dates for the 2005 round of military base closings, starting with the U.S. Defense Department list of bases it wants to close, which is expected to be submitted to the Base Realignment and Closure commission as early as this week:
Monday—Deadline for Defense Department to submit a list of base closures and realignments to BRAC commission.

July 1 — Deadline for the Government Accountability Office to review the Defense Department’s list to make sure it complies with prescribed guidelines.
Sept. 8 — Deadline for the BRAC commission to send its final list to President Bush.

Sept. 23 — Deadline for Bush to either approve or disapprove of the entire list.

Oct. 20 — Deadline for list to be revised by the BRAC commission if Bush disapproves of the list.

Nov. 7 — Deadline for Bush to certify the BRAC commission list and submit it to Congress, which has 45 days to pass motion of disapproval or the commission’s list becomes law.

April 15, 2006 — Termination of the BRAC commission’s authority.