WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Dick Cheney today proposed closing or realigning about 60 military bases in the United States and 12 installations overseas as part of a cost-saving effort.
"These proposed actions are part of an ongoing effort to streamline Defense Department operations in keeping with changing requirements and future budget realities," Cheney told Capitol Hill lawmakers in a letter that accompanied his list.
Ten of the bases recommended for closure are in California, including Ft. Ord, which played a major role in the recent invasion of Panama, the Long Beach Naval Shipyard and Moffett Field Naval Air Station near San Jose.
Overall, California accounts for nearly one third of the 35 military installations nationwide that Cheney proposed as candidates for closure as part of his "transition" budget request for fiscal 1991.
Hardest hit in the state was the Bay Area, which, in addition to the Moffett Field Naval Air Station stands to lose Alameda Naval Air Station, Oakland Naval Hospital, Oakland Naval Supply Center and the Treasure Island Naval Station.
In Southern California, the list also includes El Centro Naval Air Facility and Los Angeles Air Force Station in El Segundo.
Also on the list is the Sacramento Army Depot.
The Navy also is proposing to mothball the battleship New Jersey, based at Long Beach.
The recommended shutdowns, which must be approved by Congress, would take place between October, 1990, and October, 1994, the Defense Department said in a statement.
At a news conference, Cheney acknowledged it will be "tough" to get members of Congress, who represent voters in many of the targeted districts, to approve the domestic closings.
"I think it's a real test for Congress. . . . It is absolutely vital that Congress have the guts to make the right decisions . . . so that we end up with the quality force that is essential to the security of the nation," he said.
Cheney said he sent the list of domestic base "candidates" up to Congress along with a legislative package that would give him more power to decide to shut down military bases in the United States.
"It's my expectation to fight very hard for it," he said, denying it was a political move on his part to simply portray Congress as an obstructionist in making deep defense spending cuts.
In budget proposals to Congress, President Bush and Cheney outlined a smaller U.S. military force, paring 38,000 men and women from the 2 million in uniform and calling for elimination of several weapons systems.
The Administration called for five costly new B-2 stealth bombers, another $1-billion Trident submarine and funds for two controversial intercontinental nuclear missile systems. The President also proposed an additional $900 million for the Strategic Defense Initiative.
Overall, Cheney said he wants to terminate 20 weapons programs in an attempt to save $2.9 billion.
Among them are the Marine Corps' V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, the Navy's F-14D jet fighter, the Phoenix and Maverick missiles, the Apache helicopter, the Army Helicopter Improvement Program and the F-15E fighter.
* President Bush unveils $1.23-trillion budget. P2