Washington state and Idaho would come out winners in the Pentagon’s plans to move its troops around and close some bases.
Montana would be a loser.
No bases in Washington or Idaho will close if a special commission agrees with the Defense Department’s plans to shrink and realign its facilities around the nation.
Fairchild Air Force Base, the nation’s largest aerial tanker facility and the main survival school for the nation’s flight crews, would remain the same with about 4,500 military personnel and 500 civilian workers.
“This is great news for everyone in Spokane,” said Brigadier Gen. Gary Voellger, commander of Fairchild’s 92nd Air Refueling Wing.
Even though Fairchild was not considered a prime candidate for the Pentagon’s closure list, confirming those expectations was a relief, said U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash.
Army and Navy bases in the Puget Sound area, and Mountain Home Air Force Base near Boise would grow. Washington would gain about 780 military personnel, while Idaho would add about 125.
“This is not the final action, but this is significant action,” said Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash.
Malmstrom Air Force Base near Great Falls, Mont., would lose its KC-135 tanker squadron to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. Malmstrom would keep the forces that maintain the Minuteman missiles. It would lose about 790 jobs if the tankers leave.
Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota would close its missile facilities, but remain open as a tanker base.
Malmstrom is the only tanker base on the Pentagon’s list, which could help keep Fairchild open.
That’s because the Base Realignment and Closure Commission must take the Pentagon’s list and determine whether the Defense Department is closing the right bases. To do that, it compares similar bases the Pentagon wants to keep open.
If the commission determines a comparison base has less military value, older facilities or smaller problems to clean up, it can tell Congress to close the comparison base and keep the Pentagon’s pick open. The only way Congress can refuse is to reject the entire list.
The commission’s list of comparison bases will be released in midMay. “We should not be surprised to see a large number of bases put on the (comparison) list,” Gorton said.
No bases on the Pentagon’s list are directly comparable to Fairchild, which is one of only three regional tanker facilities.
Relocating Fairchild’s 70 tankers would cost more than relocating the dozen stationed at Malmstrom.
Voellger said he couldn’t speculate whether that fact would keep Fairchild off the commission’s comparison list.
Fairchild was on a comparison list in 1993, in part because the commission had incorrect information that some facilities at the base were inadequate.
Voellger said information this year has been carefully checked by base officials and rechecked by congressional auditors.
Under the Pentagon’s proposal, Washington state would gain people at Fort Lewis, the Whidbey Naval Air Station, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the Keyport Undersea Warfare Center.
Major Washington bases have escaped closure in previous rounds, and the state has gained ships, planes and personnel from other facilities that have closed.
U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., said that’s mainly because the nation spent more than $2 billion in the previous decade to modernize those bases.
“We have made tremendous investments in these bases over the years, keeping them modern, efficient and cost-effective,” Dicks said.
The bases are located in a strategic corner of the nation and the jobs they do, such as aerial refueling, are important for future military operations, Nethercutt said.
xxxx MILITARY CLOSURES The military bases the Pentagon has recommended for closure: Alabama Fort McClellan, close, loss 6,095 military, 2,441 civilian jobs ; NRC Huntsville, close, loss 11 military, 8 civilian jobs. Alaska NAF Adak, close, loss 540 military, 138 civilian jobs. Arkansas Fort Chaffee, close, loss 40 military, 207 civilian jobs. California East Fort Baker, close, loss 47 military, 50 civilian jobs; Moffett Federal Airport AGS, close, loss 88 military, 230 civilian jobs; Naval Health Research Center San Diego, close, loss 17 military, 137 civilian jobs; Naval Personnel R&D; Center San Diego, disestablish, loss 17 military, 203 civilian jobs; NISE West San Diego, disestablish, loss 58 civilian jobs; North Highlands Air Guard Station, close, no loss; NRC Pomona, close, loss 7 military, 3 civilian jobs; NRC Santa Ana (Irvine), close, loss 12 military, 2 civilian jobs; NRC Stockton, close, loss 7 military jobs; Naval Ship Yard Long Beach, close, loss 263 military, 3,766 civilian jobs; SUPSHIP Long Beach, disestablish, loss 11 military, 8 civilian jobs. Colorado Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, close, loss 1,291 military, 1,612 civilian jobs. Connecticut NUWC Det, New London, disestablish, loss 5 military, 622 civilian jobs; Stratford Army Engine Plant, close, loss 2 military jobs. Florida NRL Underwater Sound Det, Orlando, disestablish, loss 109 civilian jobs. Georgia Defense Contract Management District South, disestablish, loss 5 military, 164 civilian jobs. Guam FISC Guam, disestablish, loss 73 military, 340 civilian jobs; SRF Guam, close, loss 22 military, 641 civilian jobs. Illinois Price Support Center, close, loss 25 military, 200 civilian jobs; Savanna Army Depot Activity, close, loss 57 military, 393 civilian jobs. Indiana NAWC-AD Indianapolis, close, loss 36 military, 2,805 civilian jobs. Kansas NARC Olathe, close, loss 10 military, 4 civilian jobs. Kentucky NSWC Louisville, close, loss 15 military, 1,449 civilian jobs. Louisiana Naval Bio Dynamics Lab New Orleans, close, loss 15 military, 39 civilian jobs; NR Readiness Cmd 10 New Orleans, close, loss 24 military, 23 civilian jobs. Maryland Fort Ritchie, close, loss 1,011 military, 1,333 civilian jobs; Naval Medical Research Inst. Bethesda, close, loss 91 military, 55 civilian jobs; NSWC Det Annapolis, close, loss 2 military, 520 civilian jobs; NSWC Det White Oak, close, loss 1 military, 201 civilian jobs. Massachusetts NAS South Weymouth, close, loss 637 military, 299 civilian jobs; Sudbury Training Annex, close, loss 13 civilian jobs. Michigan Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, close, no loss; NRC Cadillac, close, loss 8 military, 0 civilian jobs; Selfridge Army Garrison, close, loss 54 military, 555 civilian jobs. Mississippi NAS Meridian, close, loss 1,634 military, 947 civilian jobs. Missouri Aviation-Troop Command, disestablish, loss 247 military, 4,484 civilian jobs. New Jersey Bayonne Military Ocean Terminal, close, loss 100 military, 1,267 civilian jobs; Caven Point Reserve Center, close, loss 3 military jobs; NAWC Lakehurst, close, loss 380 military, 1,383 civilian jobs. New York Fort Totten, close, loss 11 military, 32 civilian jobs; NRC Staten Island, close, loss 12 military, 2 civilian jobs; REDCAP Activity, Buffalo, disestablish, loss 2 military, 1 civilian jobs; Rome Laboratories, close, loss 10 military jobs, 1,057 civilian jobs; Roslyn AGS, close, loss 8 military, 36 civilian jobs; Seneca Army Depot, close, loss 9 military jobs, 316 civilian jobs. Ohio Springfield Beckley Map, close, no losses. Pennsylvania Defense Distribution Depot, Letterkenny, disestablish, loss 4 military, 374 civilian jobs; Fort Indiantown Gap, close, loss 136 military, 385 civilian jobs; Greater Pittsburgh IAP ARS, close, loss 387 civilian jobs; NAESU Philadelphia, close, loss 10 military, 80 civilian jobs; NATSF Philadelphia, close, loss 4 military, 223 civilian jobs; NAWCAD & NCCOSC Det Warminster, close, loss 16 military, 332 civilian jobs; NAWC-AD Open Water Test Facility, close, no losses. South Carolina FISC Charleston, close, loss 2 military, 6 civilian jobs; Naval Readiness CMO Charleston, close, loss 30 military, 16 civilian jobs. Tennessee Defense Distribution Depot, Memphis, disestablish, loss 11 military, 1,289 civilian employees. Texas A.F. Elec. Warfare Simulator Act., Fort Worth, disestablish, loss 4 military, 1 civilian jobs; Bergstrom Air Reserve Base, close, loss 585 civilian jobs; Brooks AFB, close, loss 1,820 military, 1,939 civilian jobs; Defense Distribution Depot Red River, disestablish, loss 1 military, 820 civilian jobs; NRF Laredo, close, loss 6 military jobs; Red River Army Depot, close, loss 14 military, 2,887 civilian jobs; Reese AFB, close, loss 900 military, 1,183 civilian jobs. Utah Defense Distribution Depot Ogden, disestablish, loss 8 military, 1,105 civilian jobs. Virginia Fort Pickett, close, loss 9 military, 245 civilian jobs; Naval MGT Systems SPT Office Cheasapeake, disestablish, loss 6 military, 15 civilian jobs. West Virginia Valley Grove Area Maint Sup Act (AMSA), close, loss 7 civilian jobs. Wisconsin NRC Sheboygan, close, loss 6 military.