Paying the Dividend

Article excerpt

THE latest round of proposed base closings is raising an understandable outcry from the communities that host them, as well as from the lawmakers who represent those communities and their states.

The task now, however, is to move quickly from the reactive to the pro-active: to develop strategies that find new uses for as many of the targeted facilities as possible. Energy spent on this activity will be far more beneficial in the long run than will attempts to keep the facilities operating as they are.

The list of affected bases, which Defense Secretary Les Aspin issued Friday, was virtually unchanged from the one presented to him by the military services - with the exception of two bases in California, which Mr. Aspin removed after lobbying from members of the state's congressional delegation.

The list of base closings included 31 large facilities and a recommendation to shrink or consolidate another 134 bases. No region of the country was spared; and despite Aspin's deletions, no region of the country was harder hit than California. Nine bases from San Francisco to San Diego were on the list.

Of some 81,000 military and civilian jobs projected to be lost to the base closings overall, 40 percent would come from California, which already has the highest unemployment rate of any state in the nation. …