COLD WAR-ERA POLITICS HAMPER MILITARY MODERNIZATION
March 7, 2005
Shutting down bases terrifies lawmakers determined to preserve hometown military facilities. Some have been trying to scuttle this year's round of base closing. Resistance, however, is a detriment to national defense, says USA Today.
The first four rounds of closings, which date back to 1988, save the Defense Department $7 billion a year. The Pentagon hopes to match that in the next round. The additional $7 billion would be far better spent buying armored vehicles and improving military benefits than heating and cooling bases deemed essential only to local economies.
Scrubbing the bases for excess capacity and redundancy will be the job of a special commission that will receive the Pentagon's proposed closure list by May 16. Among the questions the Pentagon and the commission should be asking:
- Why does the Air Force keep its B-2 bombers in the middle of Missouri, far from any target they might strike?
- Why do the Marines maintain a huge equipment-repair center in Barstow, Calif., when there's no Marine base there?
- Why does the Navy keep the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine when the naval focus has shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific? Can't all East Coast submarines be maintained and refueled at the huge base in Hampton Roads, Va.?
During the Cold War, most of those questions had logical answers. Basing B-2 bombers at Missouri's Whiteman Air Force Base, for example, made them a harder target for missiles fired from Soviet submarines. But the Cold War is history, along with the Soviet Union. Today, the United States must design a cost-effective fighting force for the next century, says USA Today.
Source: Editorial, "Help the military, close bases: Move to scuttle closing plan would squander billions, weaken defense," USA Today, March 7, 2005.
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