3 More Bases Targeted For Closure

The Base Realignment and Closure commission voted Tuesday to add three military facilities in California, Maine and Virginia to the list of hundreds of domestic bases that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld had already proposed for closing or shrinking.

The Navy Broadway Complex in San Diego and the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, were placed on the list of facilities to be closed. The Naval Master Jet Base at the Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia, which the Pentagon proposed trimming in size, would be reduced even further or shut down, the base-closing commission voted.

CBS News Correspondent Bob Fuss reports that the commission also decided to consider combining three military post-graduate schools and four Washington, D.C.-area medical offices — none of which the Pentagon suggested.

The commission was voting Tuesday on whether to add facilities in 11 states and Washington, D.C., to the list. The panel is making final decisions next month about which bases to propose for closing or reductions, with President Bush and Congress making a binding decision in the fall.

The San Diego facility has headquarters for Navy operations in the Southwest, while the Navy's tactical air units are trained and deployed from the Virginia base. The Brunswick air base is the last active-duty Defense Department airfield in New England and one of Maine's largest employers, with nearly 4,900 military and civilian workers. It had been slated for downsizing but now will be considered for closure.

Before voting on additions, Chairman Anthony Principi cautioned that adding a base to the list "does not necessarily mean that the base will be realigned or closed" but will allow the panel to further analyze those bases' usefulness by visiting sites, collecting data and holding hearings.

In a reprieve for California, the commission voted against putting the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego on the closure list even though several commissioners had wanted to consider merging it with the service's other recruiting facility in Parris Island, S.C.

The Naval Shipyard at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which repairs submarines, surface vessels and aircraft carriers, also was saved, although by a slim margin. The vote was five in favor of adding it to the list and four against adding it. However, seven commissioners had to vote in the affirmative for it to be added.

Several commissioners had wanted to put the Pacific shipyard on the list to compare its performance with another base slated for closure, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.

The panel also declined to add Moody Air Force Base in Georgia to the list.

Commissioners also were slated to vote on whether to add to list for possible closure the Galena Airport Forward Operating Location in Alaska, and on whether to consider shutting down, rather than simply scaling back forces as the Pentagon proposed, at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

Overall, the panel was expected to cast about a dozen votes Tuesday on whether to increase the number of facilities that may be closed or compressed in size. Votes also were to be taken to allow the commission to consider merging administrative, education and medical services from locations in several states and Washington, D.C.

The votes show the independent commission's willingness to diverge — at least somewhat — from the plan Rumsfeld submitted in May, when he proposed closing or reducing forces at 62 major domestic bases and hundreds of smaller installations from coast to coast.

The panel's actions were sure to ignite a new round of lobbying by communities whose military facilities were being targeted.

The nine-member commission must send its list to the president in September.

At this stage, adding bases to the Pentagon's proposed list of closures or consolidations will allow the commission to conduct public hearings, visit those sites and collect data, in some situations making direct comparisons with bases that perform similar missions and are slated for closure.

It takes votes from seven of nine commission members to add a base to the list. The commission then will have to reaffirm each decision in August with seven of nine votes. Other bases on the Pentagon's list can be removed then with five of nine votes.

Commissioners also have expressed serious reservations with the Pentagon's plan to disband or move dozens of Air National Guard units. However, that issue was not slated to be voted on Tuesday, and commissioners were working behind the scenes to determine what to do with that part of the proposal.