Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Meaner and leaner might mean less local jobs

Rumsfeld Seeks Leaner Army and Full Term as Defense Secretary - New York Times

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld knows his time will be up soon and is focusing more of this time on his longstanding ambitions to trim down the nation's military.
Opening up a new front of controversy, Mr. Rumsfeld is to unveil his list of recommended domestic base closings on Friday. It is sure to provoke opposition from communities that stand to lose the economic benefits of being host to the military.

One of those communities that might stand to lose is Charleston’s 130th Airlift Wing. The Charleston Gazette reports:
The 1,012-person 130th has a peacetime payroll of about $28 million. In its current partially mobilized state, it pays out more than $71 million a year in salaries. The wing’s C-130 cargo aircraft and the aircrews and support staff needed to keep them flying are now in their 10th 60-day deployment to support the nation’s military effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Local leaders say this is the wrong way to go in light of the ongoing war on terror:
“It makes zero sense to close a facility that has been so instrumental in fighting the war on terror,” said Capito. “The 130th has proven time and time again to be effective because it is made up of talented and dedicated personnel.”

Don Surber weighted in yesterday on the subject saying, "I'm all for shuttering unneeded bases."

Charleston won't be the only community facing base closings. These recommendations are just that: recommendations. I've not sure if the rest of the administration shares Rumsfeld's vision, and it will be interesting to see if President Bush wishes to use his political capital to back this issue, or attempt to distance himself to focus on Social Security reform and other issues.

In any case expect to see Rumsfeld called before Congress to answer some hard questions about what he is trying to do.


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