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BRAC recommendations signify changes ahead for Marine Corps

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200551961324
Story by Maj. Nat Fahy

WASHINGTON (May 19, 2005) -- Months of rumors and nationwide speculation were finally put to rest when Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld formally submitted the Department of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure recommendations to the BRAC Commission here May 13.

Minutes after uniformed service members were televised distributing hard copies of the list to members of Congress, word of major closings spread rapidly.

In contrast to previous BRAC rounds in the mid-90s, the Marine Corps will not have an active base completely closed. However, it will see significant transformation across many types of installations and installation functions within both the reserve and active communities. Changes range from relocation of reserve units and functions to major realignments of supply, storage and industrial capacity functions, to becoming a "receiver site" for another service organization.

“The Marine Corps was strategically positioned fairly well in advance of the 2005 BRAC process," said Brig. Gen. Willie J. Williams, assistant deputy commandant for Installations and Logistics. "These recommendations will improve our organizational alignments, and help us achieve a more efficient base infrastructure. We look forward to working with the BRAC Commission in their further analysis of these recommendations, and ultimately implementing the decisions made by the president and the Congress.”

If the recommendations are approved, nine Navy-Marine Corps reserve centers in California, Ohio, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Alabama will close. Two inspector-instructor sites in Rome, Ga., and West Trenton, N.J., will be shut down as well. In a move designed to further joint interoperability among the services, personnel operating out of these facilities will be primarily reassigned to Armed Forces Reserve Centers located nearby in their respective states.

The Marine Corps Support Activity in Kansas City, Mo., will close and move its Mobility Command to Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, but retain an enclave for the 9th Marine Corps District and the 24th Marine Regiment. Marine Forces Reserve Headquarters is scheduled to follow suit, moving out of its current location at the Naval Support Activity, New Orleans, also recommended for closure.

Four Marine Corps reserve aviation squadrons and other select aviation support units are recommended to make eventual moves from installations slotted to close. Naval Air Station Atlanta will see its reserve Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 142 relocate to NAS Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas. Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773 will relocate to nearby Robins Air Force Base. The reserve Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772 out of NAS Willow Grove, Pa., will eventually move to McGuire AFB, and HMLA-775, Detachment A, from Johnstown, Pa., will also be relocated to McGuire AFB.

To eliminate excess infrastructure and functional redundancy, brigs on three major bases are being consolidated under the central management of joint correctional facilities - one on each coast. Inmates and staff members aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., and MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be relocated to a mid-Atlantic Joint Regional Correctional Facility at the Naval Support Activity in Chesapeake, Va., while those aboard MCB Camp Pendleton, Calif., will eventually relocate to a joint correctional facility at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. Each of the bases closing their brigs will maintain at least some pre-trial confinement capability.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow in California will maintain its west coast presence to provide a close, responsive source for heavy depot maintenance support, while some of its selected commodity depot-level functions to be relocated to MCLB Albany, Ga. MCLB Albany will expand to meet the additional support requirement.

Other notable recommendations involve the eventual consolidation of service investigative departments aboard MCB Quantico. The base will become the host installation for Counterintelligence Field Activity and Defense Security Service, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the Army Criminal Investigation Command. Such a move is expected to warrant an influx of more than 3,000 additional personnel to the base.

"This will facilitate multi-service missions by creating a joint organizational and basing solution that will not only reduce waste but also maximize military effectiveness," said Col. James Lowe, base commander, in a recent press statement.

In testimony to the BRAC commission May 17, Secretary of the Navy Gordon England summed up his view of the recommendations, "As I look at the infrastructure footprint, I'm confident that it is more than sufficient to support the Navy and Marine Corps force structure."

The Department of Defense's recommendations are by no means final. The BRAC Commission will review the recommendations and forward their report to President Bush by Sept. 8. He must approve or reject them on an all-or-nothing basis. By Sept 23, the president must send his decision to Congress, which in turn has 45 legislative days to accept or reject the recommendations in their entirety. When that occurs, the recommendations then become law and must be implemented within 6 years.


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