2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 15 Jan 2003 15:29:40 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] First Skirmishes in the Battle of the Bases
First Skirmishes in the Battle of the Bases
By George Cahlink

With a new base-closing round set for 2005, communities have begun to
mount aggressive defenses.

Pentagon plans for sending troops overseas are not normally of much
interest to state governors, but a recent decision to send about 600
military and civilian personnel from US Central Command in Florida to an
air base in Qatar caught the attention of Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Fueling his concern was immediate media speculation that the deployment
was the first step in a Pentagon plan to permanently move the CENTCOM
headquarters from its MacDill AFB, Fla., location closer to the
command's area of operations.

Central Command officials tried to defuse the situation by issuing a
statement in mid-September, saying flatly that the command was not
moving and the deployment was merely to conduct a long-planned exercise.

However, a few days later, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld actually
endorsed the possibility of moving the command when he told reporters,
"The European Command is in Europe, the Pacific Command's in the
Pacific, and the Central Command is in Tampa." He then asked
rhetorically, "Why is that?"

Those words set off alarm bells in the state capital in Tallahassee.

The Florida governor quickly fired off a letter to Rumsfeld that said
Central Command "personnel are an integral part of our community." Bush
said he understood the need for having military commanders in the region
to oversee the war on terrorism but wanted to emphasize the importance
of the command to the state. He added that about 84 percent of the 1,300
military and civilian personnel employed at Central Command live in the
Tampa Bay area and generate $387 million annually for the state's

Florida's rapid response put Rumsfeld on notice that it will not allow
the uncontested removal of military facilities and employees from the
state. Florida's actions reflect a growing trend across the nation, as
states and local communities become increasingly aggressive in fighting
to keep jobs at their bases.

With another round of military base closings set for 2005, communities
with military facilities are spending millions of dollars on upgrades to
infrastructure surrounding military bases, hiring lobbyists in
Washington, D.C., to determine if their bases are vulnerable, forming
partnerships with the military, and touting the value of their
installations every chance they get.

The Pentagon had a tough job convincing Congress to allow more base
closures. An even harder job could be fighting states and local
communities over what bases can be closed.

"The easiest decisions were made before, and now everyone understands
the game so it will be tougher for [the Pentagon to close bases]," said
William Jefferds, a retired Army general officer who directs
California's efforts to keep its bases open.

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