Dougherty officials want to make sure MCLB-Albany is safe if a new BRAC round starts, possibly in 2013.
ALBANY, Ga. — Representatives from Georgia’s military installations will meet with state officials next week to further plan how best to position themselves should talks of another round of military base closures begin in Washington.
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff “Bodine” Sinyard told his fellow county commissioners Monday morning that the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee — a cooperative arm of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia State Government — will meet Feb. 16-17 in Warner Robins.
According to the GMACC website, the mission of the committee, which is chaired by Gov. Nathan Deal, is to “utilize all available resources to protect these important facilities during Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and enhance their military operations, provide effective solutions to create and foster long-term economic development strategies in the cities and regions supporting military bases, Engage state and federal officials, industry leaders and key stakeholders and provide essential tools to understand the public and private sector needs of Georgia’s military communities and expand the development of Georgia’s defense industries.”
While emphasizing that the meeting was scheduled long before Pentagon officials started talking about realigning bases last month, Sinyard said Georgia bases have an important story to tell and GMACC wants to make sure they are told to the right people.
“It’ll be our first meeting as a group and it’ll be to start laying the ground work and making sure that we’re doing our part to support our bases and doing our part to make sure that the story gets told, particularly about what our bases do for our country,” Sinyard said.
While another BRAC Committee is far from imminent or even certain, on Jan. 26 Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told Congress that base realignments and closures were a possibility in 2013 if the Pentagon had to adhere to financial constraints built into the U.S. Budget Control Act. It’s a tricky scenario for Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany.
When BRAC last convened in 2005, the committee reviewed operations in Albany and at the Marine logistics base in Barstow, Calif.
According to a document obtained by The Albany Herald, Panetta was the co-chair in 2005 of the California Council on Base Support and Retention and spoke against moving elements from Barstow to Albany.
According to that document, military value — as used by the BRAC Committee — is determined using three criteria: “jointness, ease of mobility and role of in the global changing threat structure.”
With almost 4,000 military and civilians employed on base, Sinyard said that it’s important that MCLB-Albany be adequately represented at the table.
“Locally, our Marine Corps Logistics Base is one of the most efficient, one of the strongest and one of the most well-managed depots in the world and we want that story to be told,” Sinyard said. “We’ve got good employees, we’re doing things to help the warfighter every day. So our part in this meeting is to make sure that MCLB is represented from the civilian side the way it should be represented.”
Among the details Panetta disclosed: The Army would shrink by 80,000 soldiers, from 570,000 today to 490,000 by 2017. That is slightly larger than the size the Army was when the terrorist attacks came on Sept. 11, 2001.
The Marine Corps would drop from today’s 202,000 to 182,000 — also above the level on 9/11.
The Air Force would retire some older planes, including about two dozen C-5A cargo aircraft and 65 of its oldest C-130 cargo planes.
The Navy would keep a fleet of 11 aircraft carriers, but retire seven cruisers earlier than planned. It also would delay purchase of some other ships, including a new Virginia-class submarine.
Purchase of F-35 stealth fighter jets, to be fielded by the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, would be slowed.
Current plans for building a new generation of submarines that carry long-range nuclear missiles would be delayed by two years. The current fleet of nuclear-capable bombers and land-based nuclear missiles would be left unchanged.
Military pay raises will remain on track until 2015, when the pace of increase will be slowed by an undetermined amount.
President Obama will ask Congress to approve a new round of domestic base closures, although the timing of this was left vague and there is little chance that lawmakers would agree to it in a presidential election year.
The defense spending plan is scheduled to be submitted to Congress as part of the administration’s full 2013 budget on Feb. 13.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.