WASHINGTON – On May 13 the Pentagon released a list of military installations around the nation that are recommended for closure or realignment. Here is a rundown of the facts.
The Pentagon's Proposal
— 150 military installations from Maine to Hawaii would be closed, including 33 major military installations.
— It includes more than 100 smaller facilities, including scores of Reserve and National Guard installations.
— Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says these closures will save $48.8 billion over 20 years.
— The plan would result in a net loss of 29,005 military and civilian jobs at domestic installations. Rumsfeld proposes pulling 218,570 military and civilian positions out of U.S. bases while adding 189,565 to others.
— Closures and downsizings would lose more than 2,700 jobs.
Gains and Losses
— The Naval Station in Ingleside, Texas would lose more than 2,100 jobs.
— Fort McPherson in Georgia would lose nearly 4,200 jobs.
— The Naval Station in Pascagoula, Mississippi would lose 844 military jobs and 112 civilian jobs.
— However, major gains will be seen at the Army's Fort Bliss in Texas, the Naval Shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia and Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
— Connecticut suffers the biggest loss in terms of jobs. Rumsfeld proposes closure of the Submarine Base, which would result in the loss of 7,096 military jobs and 952 civilian jobs.
— Texas has been slated to lose 15 facilities, including the Naval Station Ingleside, the Red River Army Depot and several Reserve and Guard installations.
— Pennsylvania is to lose 13 facilities, including the Naval Air Station at Willow Grove.
— California has been the hardest hit in the last four rounds of closures. This round would see eleven installations shut down- mostly Reserve and Guard units and Defense Department accounting offices.
— South Dakota's second largest employer, the Ellsworth Air Force Base, has been slated for closure. It is home 29 B-1B bombers- half the nation's fleet of the aircraft. Senator John Thune claimed he would protect the base if elected, and vowed that "We will continue to keep Ellsworth open," despite it being on Rumsfeld's list.
Why All The Change?
— For years, the military has been operating more bases than it needs for the 1.4 million troops on active duty.
— Congress has refused to authorize a new round of base closings since 1995 but reluctantly signed off on the idea last year after President Bush threatened to veto an entire spending bill.
— Lawmakers say it is unwise to close bases while US troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Pentagon argues that the timing is perfect to enlist cost-cutting measures given pressures from the ballooning federal deficit and to reshuffle the stateside network of bases while it works to reshape the entire military.
— A federal base closing commission must approve or change the Defense Department's proposal.
— Congress and President Bush must then agree to the plan.
— The approval process will likely run into the fall.
— In four previous rounds of closures starting in 1988, commissions have accepted 85 percent of bases the Pentagon recommended for closure or consolidation.
— This commission's chairman, Anthony Principi, has promised not to rubber stamp Rumsfeld's list.
— Closures in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995 eliminated or realigned 451 installations, including 97 major ones.
— Those closures resulted in a net savings to the government of about $18 billion through 2001.
— The Pentagon projects recurring annual savings of $7.3 billion from those four rounds combined.
The Opposition Prepares For A Fight
— Lawmakers, local civic officials, lobbyists and base commanders will spend the next four months trying to convince the commission that their facilities shouldn't be closed or consolidated.
— States are worried because losing a military installation could hurt local economies.
— Some states and congressional delegations are challenging Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's claim that he can shutter Army and Air National Guard installations without a governor's consent.
— At least one state, Illinois, is threatening to go to court to block Rumsfeld.
— Governors in several states including North Dakota, Delaware and Arizona have weighed in on the issue, and the New Jersey congressional delegation has asked that the Pentagon cease any attempt to close National Guard bases.
— States and the Pentagon are relying on different laws as they stake out their positions.
— Governors and congressional delegations cite a law that says in part that Army or Air National Guard units can't be "relocated or withdrawn under this chapter without the consent of the governor of the state."
— The Pentagon argues that another law that authorizes this round of base closures takes precedence and allows Rumsfeld to close or downsize National Guard bases without getting approval from governors.
— The commission charged with reviewing the Pentagon's list has suggested a legal opinion may be necessary.
— The Guard's unique joint mission contributes to the legal confusion.
— On a federal level, the Guard is part of the U-S military force responsible for national security. The president can activate units for federal missions, including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the Pentagon owns the weapons systems.
— The Guard also has a state role. Governors, through their adjutant generals, command both Guard forces during statewide emergencies like civil disturbances, floods, hurricanes or forest fires.
The National Guard
— The Army National Guard numbers 350,000.
— Units are located at roughly 3,300 armories and other small installations scattered across the country.
— Roughly 106,000 people are in the Air National Guard.
— Its units are stationed at 95 Air Force bases and Air National Guard installations and on leased land at 78 civilian spots, including airports where airmen typically also provide firefighting, medical and security services.
— The National Guard Association of the United States, a nonpartisan organization representing nearly 45,000 current and former Guard officers, argues states should be consulted about base closings.