Three More Bases Could Be Closed

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger testifies in support of California's bases to the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in Los Angeles on Thursday, July 14, 2005.
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 has proposed closing and shrinking.

The Navy Broadway Complex in San Diego, the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, and the Naval Master Jet Base at the Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia were added to the list of facilities to be closed. The commission also was voting on whether to add bases in nine other states and Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, the commission voted to keep Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota off a closure list. By a vote of 6 to 3, the nine-member panel effectively ended any practical possibility of the base being closed in the foreseeable future.

The San Diego facility has headquarters for Navy operations in the Southwest, while 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. The Naval Master Jet Base in Virginia, which the Pentagon proposed trimming in size, would be reduced even further or shut down, the base-closing commission voted.

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 simply allow the panel to further analyze those bases' usefulness.

"Our deliberations today may add more bases for further consideration, not because we have determined that we need to close more bases than the secretary of defense has recommended, but because we want to make sure the best possible closure or realignment choices are made," Principi said.

In a reprieve for California, the commission voted against putting the Marine Corps Recruit Depot 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 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.