WASHINGTON -- An independent commission said yesterday that it is considering another 36 military installations as "preliminary candidates for closure," including five of the Navy's brand-new home ports, long criticized as a billion-dollar boondoggle.
The bases may join a slate of 43 installations previously nominated by the Pentagon as part of its post-Cold War, cost-cutting strategy. Within the next four weeks, the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission must review all the candidate bases, arrive at a final closure list, and then offer that list for all-or-nothing approval by President Bush and Congress.
"I have said all along that we won't rubber-stamp the defense secretary's proposals," commission Chairman Jim Courter said in a statement released with the new list. "And I have cautioned everyone not to assume that their installation is safe just because it is not included in the Pentagon's report."
The commission's director of communications, Cary Walker, declined to say how the bases on the new list were chosen, but acknowledged that the home ports were included on the strength of a still-secret General Accounting Office report that calls them "unnecessary and costly."
It will cost more than $1 billion to complete the home ports in Staten Island, N.Y., Pascagoula, Miss., Mobile, Ala., Everett, Wash., and Ingleside, Texas.
In a statement, the commission said that some bases on its new list are being studied as alternatives to bases proposed by the Pentagon, but it did not specify which.
Mr. Walker took pains to emphasize the tentative nature of the commission's proposals, saying that they will be whittled down in a public hearing Thursday and that only those remaining bases will officially become "candidates for closure." Perhaps as a result of his caution, reaction to the proposals was muted.
Bases on new list
ARMY Closures: Fort Richardson, Ark.; Fort Drum, N.Y.
Transfer to reserves: Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.; Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico; Camp Pickett, Va.; Fort A. P. Hill, Va.; Fort McCoy, Wis.; Fort Hamilton, N.Y.; Fort Totten, N.Y.
NAVY Closures: Agana Naval Air Station, Guam; Everett, Wash.; Ingleside, Tex.; Kingsville Naval Air Station, Tex.; Long Beach Naval Shipyard, Calif.; Meridian Naval Air Station, Miss.; Mobile, Ala.; Pascagoula, Miss.; Staten Island, N.Y.
Realignment: NESEC Portsmouth, Va.; NESEC San Diego, Calif.; Naval Depot Jacksonville, Fla.; Naval Depot Norfolk, Va.; Navy Pensacola, Fla.
Realignment/closure: Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Ill.; San Diego Naval Training Center, Calif.; Treasure Island Naval Station, Calif.
Closures: Goodfellow Air Force Base, Tex.; Homestead Air Force Base, Fla.; MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.; Plattsburgh Air Force Base, N.Y.
Realignment/closure: Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y.; Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho
Realignment: Barstow, Calif.; Depot, Albany, Ga.; San Diego Marine Recruit Training Depot, Calif.