Report says Virginia should embrace possible base closings

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by Mike Gooding, 13News Now

WVEC.com

Posted on March 4, 2014 at 7:01 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 4 at 7:21 PM

RICHMOND -- A new state report paints a bleak picture of how defense cuts could impact Virginia in years to come -- more than 100,000 jobs lost, and $7 billion worth of salaries and wages eliminated.

But the Governor's Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities offers 20 recommendations for steps the state can take to soften the blow.

The panel, chaired by retired Navy Admiral John Harvey, who is now the State Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, has been meeting since last April.

The first recommendation comes as something of a surprise. Instead of being afraid of base closings, the report says the state should embrace them. 

"A BRAC will provide the DOD the opportunity to achieve a number of efficiencies by consolidating existing activities located outside the Commonwealth with existing installations and activities already in the Commonwealth," the report states.

Retired Rear Admiral Craig Quigley is executive director of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance. He says the idea of another round of BRAC in 2017--as spelled out last week by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel-- is "very contentious."

However, Quigley notes, even if there is another round of closures, he is confident Hampton Roads bases would be okay. 

"The 2005 round of BRAC made a lasting impression on Hampton Roads and the Commonwealth. We are so much better prepared today for whatever the future may bring that we were in 2005," Quigley said.

In 2005, BRAC voted to close Fort Monroe, and unsuccessfully tried to realign Naval Air Station Oceana.

Any new round of BRAC must first be approved by Congress, which so far has been reluctant to make such a move.
 

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