Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Defense Secretary Seeks Closings for More Military Bases

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Defense Secretary Seeks Closings for More Military Bases

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Defense Secretary William Cohen wants to close more military bases because the $14 billion savings from four rounds of shutdowns since 1988 are not enough, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Cohen wants Congress to approve two separate sets of closures in 1999 and 2001 on top of the nearly 100 sites ordered shut down in recent years, Pentagon sources said. But harsh reactions from key lawmakers indicated Cohen won't win approval without a fight.

"Closing bases is never easy. ... It's time-consuming, it's emotional ... but it worked," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said after disclosing Cohen's decision at a briefing. Bacon declined to say exactly how many closings Cohen was seeking or what sites might be targeted. But military maintenance depots would be considered for closures along with bases, he said. Congress approved legislation that began four rounds of base closures in 1988, shutting down 97 sites. Once those closures are completed in 2001, some $14 billion in net savings will have been achieved, Bacon said. Closing some bases has been more costly than expected because of environmental cleanup and legal costs, he added. Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma was spared when the 1995 closing commission recommended that Tinker and the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center be kept open along with two other air logistics centers. Two other centers -- in San Antonio and Sacramento, Calif. -- were recommended for closure and work there transferred to the remaining three. This has caused a massive controversy within Congress, because during the 1996 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton promised California and Texas voters that the jobs at those bases would not be lost. …

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