5:23 PM EDT, April 25, 2013
There won't be a new round of military base closures in 2015 if members of Connecticut's congressional delegation have anything to say about it. And, true to form, they have plenty to say about it.
In his new defense budget, released April 10, President Obama proposed a round of Base Realignment and Closures in 2015. It is part of Mr. Obama's plan to downsize the military along with the rest of government to reduce the national deficit.
The problem is, Mr. Obama wields a budget ax indiscriminately; moreover, his plan to downsize has high upfront costs, defeating the purpose of closing bases.
The Pentagon needs to be put on a sensible spending diet — getting rid of costly, out-of-date weapons systems or ordering only what is needed, for example. But BRAC, as it is conceived now, should be put on the shelf.
The president's BRAC proposal is "dead on arrival," says Sen. Richard Blumenthal. His Democratic colleague Chris Murphy promises that the delegation will "stop it in its tracks." Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, was quoted as saying "with ironclad certainty there won't be BRAC language" in the budget bill when it leaves the House.
There's a home-grown reason for their resistance, of course: the venerable U.S. Navy submarine base in New London. It was high on the Pentagon's closure list in 2005 before an active and vocal combination of business and other interests, along with the congressional delegation, rallied to save it. The community has invested in upgrades to the base and its environs since then.
The base will need that level of support again if there is a new BRAC round.
Pentagon disregard for the New London base is hard to figure. It makes strategic military sense and its survival is of paramount importance to the economic health of southeast Connecticut.
Americans might feel better about closing military installations here at home if the Pentagon first shuttered some of those expensive bases that have been on foreign soil, enriching foreign economies, for decades.
We aren't the Roman Empire.
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