The case for Maryland is based largely on the gains the state made in the 2005 round of BRAC, which concluded in December. Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Detrick in Frederick, Walter Reed in Bethesda and Joint Base Andrews inPrince George's County all grew as a result of that realignment.

That success, officials say, should beget more success. Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who chaired Gov.Martin O'Malley's BRAC cabinet, said the state is "well positioned" for any future realignment decisions — "thanks to the innovative nature of the specific missions Maryland gained in the last BRAC moves."

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardinsees "little vulnerability" for Maryland's installations.

"When you look at the consolidated missions on intelligence, on ordnance, the lab work that's done, the Navy testing facilities, I mean, I could just go down the list," the Maryland Democrat said. "Those missions are not as sensitive to reductions in force as some of the other facilities around the country."

Brown and others spoke of efforts by government and business to accommodate the growing military footprint with road improvements and workforce training. Those efforts remain works in progress, slowed in part by the sluggish economy and its impact on government revenues.

"We don't want to take our eye off the ball on continuing to assimilate all that change that came to us," said Barney Michel, principal strategist at the defense contractor at Joint Research and Development Inc. and president of the Army Alliance, which advocates for Aberdeen Proving Ground.

"That is one of the best ways of making sure that we net well in any future round of base realignment," Michel said. "One of the things that the military looks at is not only where things went but how well those missions were assimilated."

Another point in Maryland's favor: The likely focus of the next round of BRAC. The 2005 round featured several moves by the Army — hence, the gains at Meade, Aberdeen and Detrick. The next round is expected to focus more on the Air Force and the Navy.

Naval Air Station Patuxent River grew through several rounds of BRAC in the 1990s, and is now a major center for research, development, test and evaluation of naval and other aircraft.

Joint Base Andrews — formerly Andrews Air Force Base — was bolstered in the 2005 round and remains the principal airfield used by the president and the federal government.

Neither installation is seen as vulnerable.

Cardin said discussion about realigning bases should include installations overseas.

"The need for large numbers of military bases around the world is nowhere near as great as it was when the conventional threat was a force coming into a country and attacking us," he said. "It's the terrorist threats that leave us concerned."

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, said any base consolidation "should focus first on redundant and outdated facilities overseas."

Hayes said Maryland would do well in a future BRAC process "for many of the same reasons that we did well in 2005." He said: "That's a combination of the timeless nature of the mission and the greater criticality of some of the missions."

"Fort Meade will continue to grow because of the mission. In the case of Andrews Air Force Base, decisions are fairly independent of other BRAC discussion. In places like Aberdeen, Fort Detrick, Pax River — our places that are fundamentally involved in R&D — that work continues."

matthew.brown@baltsun.com

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