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    Seal Beach, L.A. AFB, Escape Pentagon Axe In Base Realignment/Closure, But...

    (May 13, 2005) -- The Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station and the southbay L.A. Air Force Base escaped the Dept. of Defense axe in its recommendations released this morning for the 2005 round of Base Realignments and Closures.

    However, the Pentagon recommended closure of a northern CA detachment from the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station based at Concord...and realignment (defined below) of one of multiple military units -- the 63d -- based at Los Alamitos.

    The DoD's recommendations now go to a non-elected BRAC Commission, which will make its own report on the recommendations that could trump the DoD's list by recommending closure or continued operation of bases contrary to the Pentagon's advice. (Detailed coming procedure below).

    The web page for the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station indicates its Concord detachment (and those in Fallbrook and San Diego) "provide weapons storage, loading, maintenance and support to ships and submarines of the United States Pacific Fleet. Our facilities also support Coast Guard vessels and Marine Corps units stationed afloat and ashore."

    The Concord site is one of the oldest naval ordinance support bases on the Pacific coast, with roots dating back to the 19th century. "Due to workload and budget reductions, Detachment Concord was placed into a reduced operational status beginning October 1, 1999. Port operations in the Tidal Area have been transferred to the Department of the Army's Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC). Reflecting this change, the Tidal Area has been re-named Military Ocean Terminal Concord. The Detachment's Inland Area has been placed into mothballs and is being maintained as a future mobilization asset," the website says.

    Los Alamitos has multiple military tenants, among which is the 63d unit. 98 military and 78 civilian positions will disappear if the Pentagon's recommendations are among facilities recommended by the BRAC Commission and not overturned by the President or Congress (process described below).

    The DoD website indicates closure means "all missions of the installation have ceased or have been relocated. All personnel positions (military, civilian and contractor) have either been eliminated or relocated, except for personnel required for caretaking, conducting any ongoing environmental cleanup, and disposal of the base, or personnel remaining in authorized enclaves."

    Realignment includes "any action that both reduces and relocates functions and civilian personnel positions, but does not include a reduction in force resulting from workload adjustments, reduced personnel or funding levels, or skill imbalances."

    CA reaction came swiftly by email. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said in a statement released by his office:

    ...The Department of Defense has proposed bringing new missions to a number of California's bases and realigning others, while closing relatively few in our state compared to previous BRAC rounds. In the coming days, we will be taking a closer look at the details to ensure that today's decisions are sound and balanced. Our initial assessment is that this is good news for California and for our nation.

    California communities that find their bases on the BRAC list should know that their local, state and federal officials have been working to help them and will continue to help them throughout the summer. Our California Council on Base Support and Retention, which I appointed last year to prepare for this round, is already organized into teams to help each city that is affected. They will assist with reviews of the Pentagon's decisions for errors, oversights or omissions and they stand ready to help communities make their cases before the upcoming BRAC Commission hearings. Consistent with the Council's advice, I plan to testify before the BRAC Commission at its likely California hearing on behalf of our state's bases.

    Our Council's co-chairs also will be meeting with California's Congressional delegation and the state legislature next week. It is important that we work as a team for California on our next steps. I can assure you that we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to protect California's vital bases.

    Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza (D., Carson-LB) issued the following statement:

    I commend [the Defense Dept.] for realizing Los Angeles Air Force Base is an invaluable asset to our nationís security. It is unfortunate, however, that a dozen other California bases have been targeted for closure. I will work with the supporters of those bases to ensure everything can be done to either have the closure of those bases reconsidered or that the affected communities receive the help they need to prepare for the future.

    The retention of Los Angeles Air Force Base could not have happened without the tireless help of the LA AFB Regional Alliance, local community and business leaders and a united - and bipartisan - political delegation. Saving LA AFB was no accident. Countless hours of research and preparation paid off for the betterment of our community - and our nationís defense. I share, what I am certain is the view of all LA AFB supporters, that now is no time to let our guard down. Those bases now on the closure list will be lobbying to be spared. Should that occur, LA AFB may again be targeted. We must not let that happen.

    Under a system devised by Congress, the Pentagon's recommendations are now forwarded to the non-elected BRAC Commission...which will then forward a report on the recommendations to President Bush by Sept. 8. The 2005 BRAC Commissioners are:

    • Former Nevada Rep. James H. Bilbray, who was a member of House committees on foreign affairs, armed services and intelligence. He served in the Army Reserve from 1955 to 1963.
    • Philip Coyle of California, a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information. He has served at DoD as an assistant secretary of defense and as director of operational test and evaluation.
    • Retired Navy Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., who served more than 35 years on active duty, including duty as NATO's supreme allied commander, Atlantic, and as commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.
    • Former Utah Rep. James V. Hansen, who served on the House Armed Services Committee. He served in the Navy from 1951 to 1955.
    • Retired Army Gen. James T. Hill, whose 36-year career culminated with duty as commander of U.S. Southern Command.
    • Retired Air Force Gen. Lloyd "Fig" Newton, who served in uniform for 34 years, culminating as commander of Air Education and Training Command.
    • Samuel Knox Skinner, who served as President George H.W. Bush's chief of staff and as secretary of transportation. He served in the Army Reserve from 1960 to 1968.
    • Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Sue Ellen Turner of Texas, a member of the American Battle Monuments Commission. She served for 30 years, most recently as the director of nursing services in the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General.

    The President will have until Sept. 23 to accept or reject the BRAC Commission's recommendations in their entirety...and if accepted, Congress will have 45 legislative days to reject the recommendations in their entirety or they become binding on the Dept. of Defense.

    Details can be found on the DoD website devoted to BRAC:

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