Delegates lay out support of MCLB - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Delegates lay out support of MCLB

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Albany-- The Department of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure Commission will announce May 16th which military bases they think should be closed.

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard will fly to Washington, D.C. Tuesday to pitch ideas about protecting the base to Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson. While many are predicting Albany's Marine Logistics Base will be recommended for closure, those fighting to keep it open say there is hope.

Albany's Marine Logistics Base is one of Southwest Georgia's top employers, with an economic impact more than one billion dollars a year. The fight to keep the base from being part of the BRAC closure is vital, as the final countdown ticks on. Dr. Charles Gillespie, a member of the Governor's Military Affair Coordinating Committee Board said, "I feel much more confident about it now than I did three or four years ago."

Part of the Governor's Military Affairs Coordinating Committee, Jeff Sinyard will pitch to Georgia's Senators the importance of Albany's Marine Base. "We will be obviously talking further about things that we can or can not do between now and May 16th when the basic disclosure list will come out."

While many say Albany's base is too small to survive the call to trim 25 percent of military bases, those in the know say MCLB's mission is vital. Albany's base repairs and armors vehicles for the war in Iraq, and their workload is extremely high. "What used to be empty space is now full of material that has to be repaired," Gillespie said. "And I think this base will survive."

Southwest Georgia leaders know Albany MCLB could be on BRAC's May 16th first recommendation list, but that is not a final decision. "Should something happen to where the worst scenario takes place, we are going to take the bull by the horns and fully implement another plan of action," Sinyard said.

Base realignment is BRAC's first assignment, and the Albany Marine Base has selling points for bringing other missions here. "The base has plenty of room," said Gillespie. "They closed the golf course, so they have that space available to bring another school here, or another operation here."

Southwest Georgia leaders say they are not losing hope, as time for the first BRAC recommendation list nears.

Fifteen percent of the military bases put on the 1995 BRAC closure list are still open, including Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com