Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was in Beaufort to talk about base closings, which is a hot issue and has been for quite some time. With BRAC just a year away, Graham lent his support to the local Military Enhancement Committee's efforts in saving The Tri-Command. The Senator says he supports the secretary of defense's plan to close nearly 25 percent of the nation's bases, but is optimistic Beaufort will not lose out.
"The mission of these bases are war fighting missions," he said. "BRAC is about taking non-war fighting bases and closing them up and putting war fighting bases in a stronger posture. We should do well here, but our fate is in our own hands."
The senator said he believes the missions performed here in the Tri-Command, along with the equipment and community support, will ultimately save the bases, including the once vulnerable Marine Corps Air Station. "My belief is there's no better community in the whole country to support the Marine Corps Air Wing than the Beaufort community," Sen. Graham said.
In fact, the senator was even more optimistic Parris Island would not be threatened. "I believe I will be drafted by the NBA before Marine Corps training center at Parris Island is closed, because it's that indispensable."
But members of the Military Enhancement Committee say their fight won't stop till BRAC is over. "Although the senator is optimistic on Parris Island, in 1995 Parris Island was on the chopping block," said the committee's Wes Jarmulowicz. "So even though Parris Island is in good shape, again all DOD installations are going to be looked at and we need to be on our guard."
During his visit, the senator also met with officials at Marine Corps Air Station and Parris Island. From what he said today, the next 90 to 100 days are going to be very crucial, but he said it would be about a year before the actual list is released.