RH3 Media Hearing Book - June 20, 2005 St Louis, MO Page: 74 of 81
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The first front in the state's fight is in Congress. First-term Sen. John Thune has co-sponsored
several bills to be introduced as amendments to the defense authorization bill in the next few
weeks, said Alex Conant, a spokesman for the senator.
The first bill would postpone the BRAC round until the Pentagon has finished its defense review,
set to be completed by the end of 2006, and until the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan end,
"Before we start shutting down domestic bases, we should finish that review so we have a better
understanding of what our future domestic defense needs are going to be," Conant said.
The second bill would require the Pentagon to turn over data that explains its reasoning for the
base realignments. Some states have complained that the lack of information has hindered their
efforts in the fight to keep their bases open. The third bill would extend whistleblower protection
to enlisted men and women who could be called to testify before the BRAC commission, Conant
The second line of defense against the cuts comes in the form of a task force made up of leaders
from every sector of government. The BRAC panel will hear from many of an anticipated crowd
of 6,500 people expected to attend a June 21 hearing on the base closing in the Rapid City Civic
Center, Johnston said.
The Ellsworth community is banking on history, which shows that typically about 15% of the
bases recommended for closure are taken off the list, Johnston said.
"We're certainly positive that Ellsworth could be one of those bases," he added.
Finally, a dual track toward economic redevelopment is in place, he said.
That fighting attitude varies from other states. While some estimate that Grand Forks, N.D., could
lose as many as 5,000 jobs if the proposed realignment of the Grand Forks Air Force Base is
approved, congressional leaders are looking at the bright side.
"We've got really, really good news," said a spokesman for Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D.
An open base has more potential than one that's closed, he said, adding that the state could see the
"wave of the future in military" equipment and development at Grand Forks. This base stands to
gain from the development of unmanned aircraft, though it will lose some air tankers, the
spokesman said. North Dakota's public hearing will be held June 23.
The public hearing in St. Louis, which had been set for yesterday, was postponed until June 20
after Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., and others complained about a lack of data from the
In Illinois and Missouri, which combined could lose 6,400 jobs, officials will base their argument
against closing two bases on their role in homeland security. Illinois joined with local
communities to spend $ 3 million to lobby for certain bases, including Scott Air Force Base,
which would gain nearly 800 jobs with the plan.
Wisconsin's potential loss of jobs if the 440th Airlift Wing -- based at General Mitchell
International Airport in Milwaukee -- is realigned brought criticism from Gov. Jim Doyle. The
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United States. Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. RH3 Media Hearing Book - June 20, 2005 St Louis, MO, legal document, November 4, 2005; (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc24404/m1/74/: accessed May 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.