BRAC list will be shorter than expected - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

BRAC list will be shorter than expected

Albany- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says the base closure list will be much shorter than originally thought, which he considers welcome news.

"A number of us, as members of Congress, have been concerned that at a time of war with all of the challenges we face militarily, that it may not be a good idea to be closing as many bases as were proposed for closure," said Congressman Sanford Bishop.

"We're still on pins and needles, we're still monitoring the process very, very carefully and very closely," said Tim Martin, C.E.O Albany Area Chamber of Commerce.

While Congressman Bishop thinks this is good news, members of the local task force are cautiously optimistic.

"I think it's a good sound decision for the national security of our country and hopefully that means that our bases here in Georgia will be less likely to be affected," said Bishop.

"Even though he is saying we won't close 20 to 25 percent of our installations we're only going to close 10, 12, 15 percent. If you're closed, you're going to be 100 percent closed," said Martin.

Martin says, fewer bases closed could mean less opportunity for expansion.

"If fewer bases are closed they'll be fewer missions seeking new homes, and we want to be the home of those relocated missions," said Martin. The list could be released as early as Tuesday and as late as the following Monday.

"It has to be published in the federal register before its publicly announced. We expect that to happen toward the end of next week. Once that's made then the base list will officially go to the BRAC commission," said Bishop.

While closing would not be great news, the task force says the community will grow through it, but would rather deal with growth.

"We're ready to take that final exam, Were ready to go. Whatever the final answer is, we're ready," said Martin.

The closure list won't be as long because the Pentagon plans to bring home 70-thousand troops now stationed in Europe. Most of them will be soldiers, but local leaders hope marines who come home will be stationed right here in Albany.

The leader of the state Military Affairs Coordinating Committee says Fort Benning, Fort Stewart, and Kings Bay Naval Base will expand. He says the group is focusing on protecting the state's ten other bases.

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