Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina talked with Marine recruits as he and members of his base realignment and closure (BRAC) committee toured Parris Island. This is the last stop on the governor's agenda to visit all the state's military operations as part of the effort to support the bases as the next round of BRAC approaches in 2005.
"This is going to be a tough round to get through," said John Payne with the Greater Beaufort Chamber of Commerce's Military Enhancement Committee. "It really is, so to have this kind of support from the highest level of the state is great."
Although Gov. Sanford made it clear no base is safe from the next round of BRAC, he says he has confidence Parris Island will continue to be a training ground for Marines. "You never say never, but compared to other facilities in South Carolina, I'd say in my perspective, it's one of the safer ones," he said.
The governor said not only does Parris Island play a big role in the Department of Defense and our national security, but he says the community support should help save the base and the Tri-Command. "It's incredible local support. People really do welcome with both arms these different facilities into the fabric, if you will, of the Low Country and Beaufort. And I think that too matters."
In order to help save the bases, the chamber's Military Enhancement Committee is planning to make a trip to our nation's capital to make their case to save the bases. Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and the Naval Hospital pump an estimated $454 million into the local economy each year.