Regional BRAC Impact

The waiting is over and military installations around our region have been spared. Today the Department of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure Commission released the list of US bases it recommends be closed.

The Coastal Empire and Low Country dodged a bullet under the BRAC plan. All of our bases are safe, and some are actually gaining personnel.

In Savannah, we have Hunter Army Airfield and the 165th Airlift Wing; in Hinesville, there's Fort Stewart; Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay near Saint Mary's; and in Beaufort County, Parris Island, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort and the Beaufort Naval Hospital. All were spared under the BRAC plan.

While many people around our region are celebrating, others around Georgia are reeling. Atlanta and other areas were not so lucky.

The Navy Supply Corps School in Athens, Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson in Atlanta, the Naval Air Station-Atlanta in Marietta, the Inspector Instructor program in Rome and the US Army Reserve Center in Columbus are all slated for closure.

But Georgia governor Sonny Perdue says the battle is just beginning to save four other Georgia bases slated for closure. "We will continue to pull together with those communities affected, and with other action groups, and we will vigorously defend missions and the jobs that are there and we will hopefully be successful in our effort," he said.

Gov. Perdue will visit each of the bases affected by today's decision--which again are none in our area--and take his findings to Capitol Hill.

This base closure recommendation list does have some more good news for many bases around Georgia. Not only are many of the bases staying open, under the proposal many of them will be picking up personnel and programs.

Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Fort Benning in Columbus, Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Savannah International Airport Air Guard Station and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay near St. Mary's will grow.

Some installations are getting hundreds of new military and civilian personnel.

"We have made a huge net gain in employment, in missions, in personnel, and in payroll," said US Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA). "It's being distributed around the state. Round one is a good gain for Georgia. Round two, we're going to try and gain a little more."

South Carolina bases are also expected to gain quite a bit under the BRAC plan.

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort is getting a dozen or so more personnel. Fort Jackson in Columbia is picking up an additional 600 jobs. McEntire Air National Guard Station in Eastover will get an additional 400 positions. And Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter would really grow under the BRAC plan, picking up an additional 800 jobs.

So what comes next for BRAC?

*Monday, defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff will testify before the base closing commission.

*From now until August, the commission can add or subtract from the initial list based on public hearings and site visits.

*On September 8, the commission must forward its report to President Bush.

*The president then has until September 23 to reject or accept the list.

*The list then goes to Congress. It has until November 7 to approve or reject the final list.

The Department of Defense BRAC impact list by state is available online:

Reported by: WTOC staff