Local Effort To Guard Against Closing Of Submarine Base Will Remain In High Gear
By Jennifer McDermott
March 22, 2012
Even though an influential senator has said she will not allow any plan to move forward this year to close domestic military bases, the group that fought to keep the Naval Submarine Base open in 2005 plans to keep meeting and strategizing.
"We don't want to let our guard down and stop doing those things that we need to be doing, that we are doing and will continue to do," Bob Ross, executive director of the state's Office of Military Affairs, said Thursday. "I still think 2015, perhaps 2014, is on the table and we have to stay prepared for that."
The Defense Department is calling for two new rounds of base closures, in 2013 and again in 2015.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the Senate panel with jurisdiction over base closures, told top military officials Wednesday that they had not convinced her that another Base Closure and Realignment process would benefit American taxpayers or national security.
"While I applaud the department's desire to find responsible places to achieve savings, there is one area where there is absolutely no room for compromise this year — BRAC," McCaskill said at the Subcommittee on Military Readiness and Management Support hearing.
Pentagon officials have said the department does retain some authority to close and downsize installations and would use that power if Congress does not authorize another BRAC.
The Subase Coalition met last month at the Fort Trumbull conference facility, shortly after the Defense Department announced it would ask Congress to authorize base closures, to talk about how to keep the Groton base from being targeted once again.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, discussed the BRAC developments in Washington, D.C., while Ross updated the group on the ongoing efforts to improve the base.
Courtney said Thursday the growing bipartisan opposition to a new BRAC makes congressional approval unlikely, but he also emphasized the need to stay on guard.
"Southeastern Connecticut knows all too well that we must stay vigilant in defending our sub base," he said in a statement.
Ross said he spoke with Groton Town Manager Mark Oefinger on Wednesday about scheduling another coalition meeting sometime within the next couple of weeks.
Two projects to help the base mitigate future encroachment will be on a future state Bond Commission agenda, Ross added. Connecticut was the first state to give the Navy money to fully fund construction projects at a military base.