Meridian Star

Editorials

February 6, 2012

Military cuts and BRAC to challenge leaders

MERIDIAN —    The late and former Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Mike Boorda, sat next to his boss, Secretary of the Navy John Dalton. Under oath, they were testifying at the final hearing of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC) Commission in 1995. The Navy wanted to close Naval Air Station Meridian. Dalton testified in support.

    Commission Chairman Alan Dixon asked, “Admiral Boorda, how do you feel about closing NAS Meridian?”

    Federal law provides that uniform military leaders may disagree in congressional hearings with their civilian leaders.  However, that rarely happens.

    “I would be uncomfortable,” replied Boorda.

    Boorda’s extraordinary testimony persuaded the Commission to save the Meridian base. The remarkable story behind this event may never be told, but the terrific team effort and complex strategies that led to it are instructive.

    In 2005 another BRAC commission voted to save Keesler AFB Medical Center and the Naval Human Resource Center at Stennis Space Center. The team efforts and strategies behind these results are also instructive.

    With the Pentagon recommending two new BRAC rounds and Congress preparing massive cuts, lessons learned during the BRAC rounds of 1991, 1993, 1995, and 2005 should be dusted off, resourced, and re-invigorated.

    Already “experts” are picking losers. A recent Kiplinger Letter calls Mississippi one of 14 “more vulnerable” states. The Huntington Ingalls Shipyard at Pascagoula and the Army Corps of Engineers facilities at Vicksburg were cited.

    And, yes, the Pentagon is moving all out to identify cuts. Just last week the Air Force unveiled proposals for major cuts based on its plans to retire, cancel procurement of, and reassign numerous aircraft. Included were elimination of C27J short-haul cargo aircraft and reassignment of C130J transport aircraft. Cancelling the C27J impacts the 186th Air National Guard unit in Meridian. Reassignment of C130Js hits Keesler AFB. None of the revealed aircraft changes would impact the 172nd Air National Guard unit in Rankin County, the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, or Columbus AFG.

    However, the Air Force has not revealed its plans to reduce manpower or close/realign bases. The Navy and Army have yet to reveal anything. And Congress has yet to act. But leaders should anticipate more recommended impacts on Mississippi.

    Other military units at risk are those at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, the Navy Seabee base in Gulfport, Camp Shelby in Forrest County, Camp McCain in Grenada County, Meridian Naval Air Station, and the Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg.

    As Mississippi learned from past BRACS, pre-BRAC periods can be troubling, but also times of opportunity for aggressive states. As the Pentagon rebalances units and missions, it is susceptible to influence.

    Strong leadership made a difference for Mississippi in past BRACs. It’s time for our newest leaders to suit up.

    Bill Crawford (crawfolk@gmail.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.

1
Text Only
Editorials
Biz Marquee
New Today
Poll

People are carrying less credit card debt in the wake of the Great Recession. Have you changed your credit card use?

Yes
No
     View Results
Facebook
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide