New military base closings reportedly due to be announced


WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration is about t propose a sweeping new round of military base closings that seeks to reflect declining troop levels and changing military missions, senior Pentagon officials say.

Under orders from Defense Secretary Les Aspin, the armed services recommended in the last 10 days that at least 30 major installations be closed and as many as 150 other depots and smaller sites nationwide be consolidated or reduced, military officials said.

California, where 17 installations are already in the process of closing, will be hit particularly hard in this round, Pentagon officials said.

Among the bases proposed for closing are the Alameda Naval Air Station in California, home to 18,000 sailors and relatives, and several other Navy installations in the San Francisco Bay area. While that would cost the state a large number of jobs at a time of substantial unemployment, it would still leave the state with many active bases.

Mr. Aspin and Gen. Colin L. Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as other senior Pentagon officials, are reviewing the recommendations and may make changes before the defense secretary announces his final list, which is expected Friday.

The proposals will then be given to a presidential commission that was set up to review such closing plans, giving Congress political cover for the decisions.

Among the other major installations the military has proposed to closing or reducing are Homestead Air Force Base in Florida, Charleston Navy Shipyard in South Carolina, K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Michigan, March Air Force Base in California, Orlando Naval Training Center in Florida and Fort McClellan in Alabama.

The Air Force is cutting bomber and fighter bases that are too costly to run for fewer airplanes. The Army lost several large bases in two earlier rounds of cuts and will probably be spared major reductions this time.

The Navy is recommending that one-third of its installations, or about 130 of them, be closed, largely because many of the bases the Navy offered to close last time were rejected by the commission for faulty justification.

With its existing infrastructure built to accommodate a 600-ship Cold War fleet, the Navy is now heading toward a total of 320 ships and submarines, and must slash its overhead. The Navy's strategy is to create "megaports" in Norfolk, Va., and San Diego.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad