Tuesday, June 21, 2005

DoD Base Closings: Shuffle Up and Deal

I'll admit up front that I'm biased about the Base Realignment and Closure Program (BRAC). My home in Laurel is situated at the nexus of Prince George's, Montgomery, Howard, and Anne Arundel Counties, all of which stand to benefit from the DoD's proposal to close and realign military bases in the DC Metro area.

That said, I'm sensitive to the NoVa contingent who don't want to pick up their families and follow a gubment job. Once your kids are in school, your spouse has a job s/he likes, and you've discovered hidden treasures in all of the nooks and crannies of your town, who wants to pick up and do it all over again? Who knows which hairstylist will get your blunt cut just right, or which grocery store carries the best produce? And what if you can't find a daycare provider your child likes? It's exhausting figuring all of that out.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look like NoVa's side of the military poker table is stacked with compelling arguments for the status quo.

First and foremost, money talks. This plan projects that the federal government will save about $48 billion over the next 20 years. Of course, this is the number the DoD has supplied, and it may not be accurate. But it's easy to sell $48 billion in savings to your constituency.

Additionally, realigning military bases and their related defense agencies will theoretically promote information-sharing. Let's see...what's one of the top reasons cited for the attacks of 9/11? Oh, right. Lack of information-sharing. (See Chapter 13.3 of the 9/11 Commission Report.)

Those are just two reasons from the big fat list that the DoD submitted to Congress. Unless the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments' (COG's) study on environmental impact reveals that closures and realignments will cause irreparable damage to the areas currently playing host to these bases and agencies, the President and Congress will most likely approve the plans by their respective deadlines (September 23rd and November 7th).

Should the COG find that there will be damage, though, it's pretty clear that the DoD is prepared to refute those findings based on the shiny happy articles that are eating up real estate on their BRAC web pages.

Good luck, NoVa, and maybe I'll see ya 'round my neck of the woods.

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