Panel reveals more bases it’s considering for closure

By Liz Sidoti: The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Military bases in Hawaii and California are among several a commission is considering adding to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s list of proposed closures.

In a letter sent Friday to the Pentagon chief, commission Chairman Anthony Principi identified additional bases the commission may recommend closing and seeks explanations for why the Pentagon decided to leave those facilities open.

Specifically, the letter asks why Marine Corps Recruit Depot and the Navy Broadway Complex, both in San Diego, Calif., and the U.S. Naval Shipyard at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, were not slated for closure.

It also questions the Pentagon’s decisions to downsize, rather than close, the Naval Air Station in Brunswick, Maine, Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina, and Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota.

And, the letter asks for more explanation about the proposed reorganization of Air National Guard facilities across the country and the downsizing of several other small facilities.

In May, the Pentagon proposed closing or reducing forces at 62 major bases and hundreds of smaller installations to save money and streamline the services. Dozens of other facilities would grow, absorbing troops from domestic and overseas bases slated for closure or downsizing.

The law that authorized the first round of base closings in a decade requires the Pentagon to answer such questions before the commission can recommend closing or downsizing a facility that wasn’t on Rumsfeld’s original list.
In another letter to members of Congress on Friday, Principi said, “Please be assured that the commission has not decided to close or realign any installations.”

“We are in the early stages of a multistep process,” he continued, adding that the commission simply is seeking more information from Rumsfeld before decided whether to add bases to the list.

“The commission is inquiring, not deciding.”