The Norwich Bulletin July 3, 2005
Locals dismiss analyst's opinion
By Jason Tsai
State and local leaders Saturday dismissed an analyst's opinion the Groton submarine base is doomed for closure because it was not mentioned Friday in a list of questions posed by the independent Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
A cover letter sent Friday from Chairman Anthony J. Principi to Rumsfeld explained the commission is seeking more information regarding a dozen bases on the Pentagon's list of base closures.
John Pike, a defense analyst for GlobalSecurity.org, said Friday the omission of Groton from this list cemented its fate, adding: "If you're not on (Friday's) list, it's not going to change."
Dennis Shain, spokesman for Gov. M. Jodi Rell, shrugged off Pike's words and called them a "mistake."
"We're not spending any time reading tea leaves or trying to figure out what someone's statement meant," Shain said.
In a separate letter sent Friday to members of Congress, Principi said the commission's questions stemmed from site visits, regional hearings and public comment periods.
Although four BRAC commissioners visited the Groton sub base last month, Connecticut has yet to hold its regional hearing and public comment period.
It will present its case Wednesday to the BRAC commission in Boston.
Robert McCreary, a spokesman for the commission, said the commission's questions were preliminary and "it is possible that there will be more questions the commissioners will have in the future."
John Markowicz, chairman of the local Subase Realignment Coalition, called Pike's estimation flawed.
"To draw a correlation and a final list of bases to be added or subtracted is an entirely inaccurate assumption," Markowicz said. "This is merely a letter from Principi to the secretary of defense requesting some more data. This is just one of a number of letters."
Also Saturday, Markowicz said he was intrigued by the BRAC's request for Rumsfeld to elaborate on the issue of military value. Question 2 on the list asks why Naval Shipyard Portsmouth (Maine) is being closed and not Naval Shipyard Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), which has "low military value compared to other shipyards according to the Department of Defense analysis."
The Groton submarine base has also been characterized as having low military value.
"One of our focuses is to try, with specificity, to establish where the military value of our submarine base was undervalued," said Markowicz. "So the suggestion in Friday's letter that Portsmouth was undervalued falls into the category of interesting, and we intend to explore that value."
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