Why Now?
Friday, May 13, 2005
  Penny Wise
The Pentagon is reviewing its real estate holdings and deciding if it needs to close "branch offices" to cut costs. Rumsfeld has figured out that he can't cut as deeply as he had "planned" because, as usual, his initial "plan" left out the withdrawal of US troops from overseas bases. Apparently Rumsfeld's initial concept was to eliminate enough people that there would be no need to have space for the troops returning to the US.

CNN's report is titled: Rumsfeld: Base closings will save $48 billion and MSNBC's report on Base Closings follows the same line.

CNN at least gives a subhead that puts in perspective: "Defense chief says savings would be realized over 20 years".

Rumsfeld talks about $7+ billion per year, but through the first 20 years that will be offset by the cost of cleaning up the bases. Most closed military bases show up on the EPA Superfund list immediately because the military uses a lot of dangerous chemicals and materials that are a minor immediate problem as the public is kept away by fences and armed guards. When the bases are closed and sold, you have to clean them up. People get annoyed when bombs and such are found in their backyards after moving into a new subdivision.

The process is exceedingly expensive as states and localities hire lobbyists to protect their interests. This is going to be a vicious fight and there is no need to do it now. That Rumsfeld is pushing this forward at a time when he should be taking care of the multitude of problems with the wars and occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as rising tensions over Iran and North Korea.

The recommendations for base closings are out and it is flat strange.

Senator Thune claimed that saving Ellsworth AFB was something he could do and Tom Daschle couldn't, except he was wrong.

Joe Lieberman's act hasn't helped the Groton Sub Base; Texas took a number of hits; they are planning to close Walter Reed Hospital; Trent Lott couldn't defend Pascagoula Naval Station; Olympia Snow didn't help Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

They are moving people around and closing facilities at a time when we need to expand the military. They are eliminating National Guard and Reserve centers at a time in history when these forces are being used more and more as active units. This is a plan that was created years ago in George H.W. Bush's administration by Cheney and Rumsfeld and not updated since then. It doesn't reflect reality.

Let the blood bath begin, because this will be a nasty fight.

Update 2:
They are moving several thousand people to the local base in my area, and my Mother, ever practical, asks "Where are these people supposed to live?"

We lost hundreds of houses and apartments to hurricane Ivan last Fall. There has been no new low-cost or even medium cost housing built in years, only high-end retirement condos. The base is building a new housing area, but that is to replace the units they lost in the hurricane.

We don't have the local infrastructure, water, sewer, roads, etc. for thousands of new people. Does Rumsfeld have a "plan" to locate more groundwater?

Update 3:
Cookie Jill at skippy found an Associated Press story confirming the Pentagon wants to close Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC.


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