BRAC Early Bird 13 September 2005 Page: 2 of 10
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Southern Bases Look To Redevelop
Now that the base-closing panel has given its
list, communities focus on what to do next.
Newport News Daily Press
September 11, 2005
WASHINGTON -- A commission sent President
Bush a military realignment proposal Friday that
was less kind to Southern bases than the
Pentagon wanted, and affected communities in
the region were moving ahead with
redevelopment plans even as their lawmakers
hoped for last-minute changes.
The independent Base Realignment and Closure
Commission ultimately approved all but 14
percent of the closings and consolidations
sought by Defense Secretary Donald H.
Rumsfeld. Many of the rollbacks came as bad
news for the South, but few decisions to salvage
bases or major missions benefited the region.
"The commissioners seemed to feel that the
Pentagon had been too hard on the Northeast,
and it was their job to rebalance the decisions in
order to prevent the demilitarization of New
England," said Loren Thompson, a defense
analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank in
Thompson said he expected Bush and Congress
to approve the commission's recommendations.
Still, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., was holding
out hope that something could be done to restore
the Pentagon's initial proposal to close Navy
bases in Connecticut and Maine. Those would
have meant major job gains at Kings Bay
Submarine Station in Georgia and at Naval
The closing panel reversed those decisions, but
Chambliss suggested Bush should rethink them
because they accounted for 80 percent of the
Navy's cost savings.
The commission's final deliberations were
particularly bad news for Georgia, which not
only failed to gain jobs at Kings Bay but lost
four bases to closure -- Naval Air Station
Atlanta, Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson in the
Atlanta area, and a small Navy supply school in
Under the redevelopment process, federal and
state agencies get first dibs on former military
property before it is turned over to the
community for private development. Southern
bases are often passed over because they are in
less-populated areas, with a smaller available
work force, but Atlanta is a major exception.
Some agencies have already expressed interest
in maintaining a presence at Gillem or
McPherson, including the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, which currently houses
trailers there, said Fred Bryant, executive
director for the McPherson-Gillem Foundation.
Gen. Philip Y. Browning, executive director of
the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating
Committee, which shepherded Georgia through
the closure process, said the community may
actually prefer private development because of
property taxes, which would be waived if the
government retains the property.
"Our problem may be we've got too many
people interested" in the base properties, he said.
In late October, community leaders from the
Southern bases targeted for closure or
realignment will gather in Atlanta for a briefing
by Pentagon officials for how to redevelop their
One classic success story is found nearby. Fort
McClellan in Alabama was shut in the last
closure round, in 1995, but has re-emerged as
the Center for Domestic Preparedness -- the pre-
eminent training hub for first responders to
Alabama was relatively unscathed during the
closure process this time, but the BRAC panel
did reverse what would have been some major
job gains for the Anniston Army Depot and Fort
Less lucky in the South was Virginia's Fort
Monroe, now targeted for closure. It dates to the
1800s and is the headquarters for the Army's
BRAC Commission Early Bird
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United States. Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. BRAC Early Bird 13 September 2005, text, September 13, 2005; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc21827/m1/2/: accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.