Military Enhancement Committee briefs residents about DC talks - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

MEC briefs Beaufort residents on meeting with Washington officials

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BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) -

Sequestration and a possible base realignment and closure remain on the horizon for U.S. military bases.

In Beaufort County, the Military Enhancement Committee just returned from a trip to Washington D.C., where they met with top leaders to voice their concerns. 

They issued a sobering message to Beaufort community leaders at a packed meeting Friday morning. 

Members of the Military Enhancement Committee wanted to brief everyone on how the talks in D.C. went.

During the trip, Retired Col. and Vice Chairman of the MEC Jack Snider and other MEC members met with U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and officials from Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon. 

Snider said the discussions were productive, yet realistic about what could happen. 

It's not just BRAC they're fighting against.

"Sequestration, although we're only in our first year, could be a long-term problem for this nation and a long-term problem for the community in Beaufort County. The concern is there's no mechanism in place to stop it, cuts of $52 billion," Snider said. 

The military pumps $1.5 billion into Beaufort's economy every year, according to the Beaufort County Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

There are big plans for the future – such as five Joint Strike Fighter squadrons and the only training program for F-35B pilots.

"Anybody that flies that aircraft will have to come and live in the Beaufort, South Carolina area, it will be the future and our main war fighting aircraft," said Snider.          

But some such as Beaufort resident Jim Turk see the federal cuts differently. 

"Sequestration might be a blunt instrument but it's forcing the country to face its deficit problems and cause us to rethink our priorities," Turk said.   

"It's an issue all of us should be concerned about, not just from our own personal interests but for our nation's defense, the world's not getting any safer and we have to be smart about what we do," Snider said.   

MEC members continue to have weekly discussions with their consultants in Washington D.C. to make sure these concerns stay on the table.

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