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THE NATION

More Bases May Be Closed

July 02, 2005|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Military bases in Hawaii and California are among several a commission is considering adding to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's list of proposed closures, the panel's chairman said Friday.

In a letter sent to the Pentagon, Chairman Anthony J. Principi identified additional bases the Base Realignment and Closure Commission may recommend closing, and sought explanations for why the Pentagon decided to leave those facilities open.

Specifically, the letter asks why the Marine Corps Recruit Depot and the Navy Broadway Complex, both in San Diego, and the U.S. Naval Shipyard at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were not slated for closure.

It also questions the Pentagon's decisions to downsize, rather than close, the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

And, the letter asks for more explanation about the proposed reorganization of Air National Guard facilities across the country and the downsizing of several other small facilities.

In May, the Pentagon proposed closing or reducing forces at 62 major bases and hundreds of smaller installations to save money and streamline the services.

Dozens of other facilities would grow, absorbing troops from bases slated for closure or downsizing.

The law that authorized the first round of base closings in a decade required the Pentagon to answer such questions before the commission could recommend closing or downsizing a facility that wasn't on Rumsfeld's original list.

In another letter to members of Congress, Principi said, "Please be assured that the commission has not decided to close or realign any installations. We are in the early stages of a multistep process."

The commission will conduct a public hearing July 19 in Washington to decide whether bases left off the list should be added. It takes seven of nine votes to add a base. Other public hearings and base visits would follow.

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