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Fairchild’s Future Looks Safe For Now Spokane Base Avoids Closure List

Spokane business and political leaders were pleased Monday with early reports of military bases the Pentagon wants to close.

Fairchild Air Force Base isn’t on a preliminary list of targeted bases published over the weekend by the New York Times.

Pentagon officials also told U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., that all Air Force, Army and Navy bases around the state should remain open.

An aide for Dicks told the Associated Press “there’s been no indication whatsoever” that any bases in the state will be on the Pentagon’s list.

Rich Hadley, president of the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce, said he was pleased Fairchild isn’t mentioned in the reports of potential bases to be closed. But he remains cautious.

“It’s way too soon to break out the champagne. Right now I would not go much past a bottle of 7-Up,” Hadley said.

That’s because Defense Secretary William Perry won’t release the official list until today. It is subject to change until it is released, and will almost certainly be longer than the one the Times assembled from unnamed sources.

The newspaper listed only four Air Force installations that would be considered for reductions or closure. None of the four is the home to large airplanes, the special category that includes Fairchild.

Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota also is being considered for realignment, the Associated Press reported Monday. But the AP had no details about what changes might be proposed for that base, where B-1 bombers, KC-135 tankers and Minuteman missiles are based.

Consultants for a special task force assembled by the Spokane Chamber of Commerce, Momentum and local government agencies estimate as many as 10 Air Force bases will be closed.

Even if Fairchild isn’t on the Pentagon’s official list, it could still be considered for closure later this year.

Spokane boosters have assumed for several weeks that Fairchild would remain off the Pentagon’s initial list. They have been told it is more likely that the base could be compared with another tanker facility when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission reviews the Pentagon’s list.

The commission’s list of comparison bases won’t be announced until mid-May.

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