Thursday, August 25, 2005

Base Closure Follies

The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, (BRAC), a nine-member panel charged by Congress with, according to its website “ensuring the integrity of the base closure and realignment process,” has been making news these past several days, announcing approvals of plans to close some military bases and keep others. The BRAC exists because Congress doesn’t have the intestinal fortitude to dispose of bases according to military advice.
When outraged constituents call their congressmen and protest that precious Camp Swampy, last of military relevance in, oh, 1836, has been closed, the solons can shrug their collective shoulders and say “Gee, the BRAC told us to close it, it’s really not our fault.”
Today’s papers report that the BRAC, against the advice of the Navy, has decided to preserve the Naval Submarine Base New London (at Groton, Connecticut) and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard at Kittery, Maine. The stories are complete with photographs of smiling workers in Groton and Kittery.
Let’s understand what is going on here. The US Navy, which presumably is aware of what bases and items it needs to defend the country and carry out its missions, has concluded that the Naval Submarine Base New London, and the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are surplus to requirements. Despite this, the Navy is told that it will have to make room in its budget for a shipyard it doesn’t want, and a sub base it doesn’t need. What will the Navy have to forgo ?
How do the people arguing for the preservation of these bases live with themselves ? Yes, yes, of course the bases provide local employment, and cash in kind to the local economies, medical care for retired personnel, PX privileges and sundry other benefits – but the US military is NOT a social benefits or employment scheme.
My disapproval is not based on the fact my two examples are located in New England. Naval Station Ingleside, at Corpus Christi, Texas, is also slated for closure. No doubt a useful facility if we ever needed to send carrier task forces rampaging down the Mexican coast, but not otherwise. Close it.

To El Jefe’s way of thinking, the military has concluded what bases it needs, and which are surplus, and that ought to be the end of it. The Congress goes through similar chicanery with weapons systems and other appropriations, giving the services weapons they don’t want because they’re built in the right congressional districts, and depriving them of needed items for the same reason. When the service staffs conclude what is needed, again, that ought to be the end of it.

1 comment:

Dymphna said...

OT, El Jefe, but thought you might be interested. No doubt you read Michael Yon...interest in his blog has reached the tipping point now, for which I am glad. I've been following him since early in the year when I stumbled on his place during the wee know, the time you're in front of the screen when you really ought to be REMing in bed.

So, anyway, I got on his mailing list early and am always glad when a new post comes over the threshold. THis last one, "Gates of Fire" is utterly compelling. It's been touted all over the place.

The Baron and I decided we wanted to post on him again and my original suggestion, that the Baron comment on the book Yon mentions, "Gates of Fire" as a theme. He laughed and said that you and Vercingtorex, just to name two, would have him for breakfast if he did some lame post on an area of your expertise.

Sooo...why not a post by you on "Gates of Fire." Do you own it? If not, do you want to look at Amazon and figure out why the CO would give him -- and everyone else -- a book on Thermopylae?

This seems tailor-made for you. Meanwhile, I'm trying to start a swarm for getting Yon some night vision gear...if you've any advice about that, come over. The post should be up in an hour or so... about 1:00 pm Sat.