HARPER: THE ECONOMICS OF DOMESTIC BASE CLOSINGS

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Harp
In March 2015, the Pentagon asked Congress to establish a new Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) commission.  It would be the fifth time since 1988 that a significant number of domestic military facilities were shuttered.  In New York State alone, 32 bases have been closed down in the previous rounds, including major facilities like the Brooklyn Navy Station, Griffiss Air Force Base and Stewart Air Force Base.  In Massachusetts, 19 bases have been closed to date,including Fort Devens, and Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod.  BRAC proponents cite significant savings to the Pentagon budget, even after the 2005 BRAC shutdowns and realignments cost $35.1 billion, with a 67 percent cost over-run.

New York and Massachusetts are two states that have, for the most part, willingly gone along with the base closings, oblivious to the deep economic consequences to many communities that were effectively wiped out by the removal of the military facilities.  In New York, one of the prime targets of the 2017 push for further base closures is Fort Drum in Jefferson County, home of the 10th Mountain Division.  Local businesses and citizens groups are already mobilized to prevent the shutdown, and some impressive statistics buttress their case.  It is estimated that the shutdown of Fort Drum would result in a loss of $1.6 billion from the local economy, the loss of 20,000 residents, a full 1/3 of the population of Jefferson County.  One large school district in the county would lose 70 percent of its student body.

The same story is to be heard all over the country.  What's more, at the same time that the domestic base closings are proceeding, the U.S. military footprint abroad is expanding.  According to American University professor David Vine, there are presently 800 American military bases abroad, in 70 countries, with an annual cost of $160-200 billion, including American theaters of combat–Iraq and Afghanistan. Recent Pentagon studies of the need to devise a "third offset strategy" to address the increased vulnerabilities of American military bases around the globe raise further questions about the viability of the current military posture.

If the domestic economic consequences of the closing of military facilities that are sometimes the largest employers in areas of the country, already beset by departures of industry for cheaper offshore locations, are not taken into account by Pentagon bean counters looking to reduce the DOD budget, it is a fools errand at best.  The result is real human suffering in distressed parts of the country that have proudly housed America's fighting men and women for decades and, in some cases, for centuries.

I welcome comments.

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62 Responses to HARPER: THE ECONOMICS OF DOMESTIC BASE CLOSINGS

  1. turcopolier says:

    All
    I asked Harper to research and write this to examine the claim made by Governor Cuomo, etc., that high state income tax states are unfairly exploited by other states in which a great deal of federal money is spent. the truth is that the rich states have been very willing to see the closure of federal naval and military installations and the movement of the units based on these abandoned sites to places like Texas for example. When an old army post is closed the really beautiful housing is sold on the local market. pl

  2. Eadwacer says:

    A RN Captain once said to me that the reason the Army had so many really nice waterside bases — and O-clubs — was that at one point in history the defense of harbors and cities was based on forts with cannon at the entrance. These are not needed so much today.
    Similarly, many of the USAF installations in the NE are there to ward off the Soviet Bear/Bison threat (Otis once hosted early AWACS, and interceptors), or are smaller facilities, like radar stations on hilltops. That’s how you fit 19 bases into a state a quarter the size of Virginia.
    But these are mostly, ultimately, relatively, low-impact, because of size or because they are embedded in an existing economic web that can take up the slack.
    The real pain is felt by essentially rural communities, where the military presence is bigger than Walmart. The real question is, if you close a base here, do you have a better option elsewhere? Can you justify moving the 10th from one rural base to another? From Ft Drum, to, let’s say it, … a shithole base like Ft Hood? The weather will certainly be better, and there will be a lot more open terrain for training. I am thinking that the local communities ought to be emphasizing the military advantages as much as they do the economics, and leave the economic/political side to their Congressmen.

  3. raven says:

    Here in Athens, GA the Navy Supply Corps School closed and was replaced by the Medical College of Georgia. It has been better for the community since most of the former occupants were able to shop at the BX. The thing I miss is the bugle, I lived by it for 20 years.

  4. Eadwacer says:

    I am making this as a second comment because the topic is different enough and controversial enough to warrant it.
    The economic impact on the community argument is the high end of a discussion about the proper social role of the military in society.
    When we talk about enlisting people who have been low performers in civilian life, who maybe have been in trouble with the law (“sentence suspended if you enlist”), who are otherly gendered, we are asking the same question, only at an individual level.
    Across this spectrum, we know the military has an impact, that the nation will be different if we spend billions of dollars here, rather than there, or maybe thousands of dollars on them. How you answer the one question will inform how you answer the other.

  5. tv says:

    Cuomo is proof that there are more asses than horses.
    He has, single handedly – by fighting fracking in the Southern Tier – sure that that area sinks into permanent depression.
    He is a sanctimonious (like his “sainted” father) and likely corrupt P.O.S.
    It’s true that people get the government they deserve….kind of.
    The people of upstate NY don’t deserve the history of punishment and oppression from being tied to NY City and it’s suburbs.
    Harper notes that NY doesn’t care about the loss of military bases;that really means NYC

  6. Fred says:

    Col.,
    “When an old army post is closed the really beautiful housing is sold on the local market. ”
    That’s precisely what happened with the base in San Francisco. I believe the well connected recieved on heck of a windfall. The same happened with much of the housing in Key West, FL.

  7. Green Zone Café says:

    I dispute that New York, Massachusetts and the rest of the Northeast “willingly went along” with base closings.
    In Massachusetts, the closure of Boston Naval Shipyard is called “Nixon’s Revenge.” The thought was it were political. There were a lot of jobs in the naval shipyards.
    BRAC came after that, but it’s still politically subject to Congress. Republican “Red State” control means those states keep all the bases, with a few exceptions for show.
    The military effect is that the fleet, army, and air force are concentrated in a few huge “Joint Bases” in a few states. In the case of the Navy, more easily bottled up or struck.
    The cultural effect is a feedback loop: the military has little visibility in many states, while it is everywhere in others. Young people enlist for “station of choice” near their hometown. Many of those who enlist for their hometown base are the 17 year old guy with a 16 year old pregnant wife. These guys end up being more of a leadership challenge than single troops, when they are “surprised” by a deployment, or they run out of money after profligate spending on a car and widescreen TV, or their wives find one of their platoon mates sexier.
    Over the long term, the military adopts of the values of the states they are in. More Evangelical Christianity less Methodism, Catholicism, Judaism or agnosticism. More Tea Party, less Let’s Party!
    Just one more trend leading to fracturing the country.

  8. Reggie says:

    Years ago they closed Ft. Sheridan, IL. The fix was in. It was sold for a pittance. Lake front/beach property on Chicago’s north shore is worth a fortune. The taxpayers were shafted big time. I’m sure this is not an isolated instance.

  9. aka says:

    sirs,
    why exactly are the bases being closed?
    Is it because the military is decreasing in size or because the the military is concentrating their manpower in to fewer number of places?

  10. JohnH says:

    It would be interesting to know how much of that $150-200 billion spent on foreign military bases stays out of the country. Though much military aid gets returned in the form of purchases to American companies, my guess is that the bulk of that $150-200 billion, even if spent with American contractors, stays overseas, since companies like to source abroad, hire foreign employees, and keep profits abroad. This ‘leakage’ from the American economy could represent a significant drag.
    When the US economy started to stall in 2008, Bush got a stimulus package of $150 billion enacted. If $150 billion injected into the economy could jump start it, I have to believe that $150-200 billion could help stall it…and reduce long term economic growth when leakage is chronic.
    I have asked prominent economists about this. They haven’t a clue.

  11. J says:

    You hit the nail on the head when you said ‘Pentagon bean counters’. Think tanks who have hidden agendas (overseas lily pads aka 800 plus bases abroad in foreign countries) have been prodding the Pentagon and Congressional politicians and their staffs. Namely they don’t give a damn about Mom and Pop America, just like the Mercs (oops I meant the politically correct term Private Military Contractors) whose only concern is their bottom line and their personal skins that are constantly advocating unnecessary foreign wars involving the U.S..
    Pentagon Bean counters, Think Tanks with foreign agendas who have sold their American souls to the devil so-to-speak.
    Time that Mom and Pop America stopped the Pentagon’s bean counter bull shit and took back and slapped the pea wod out of the Pentagon bean counters who haven’t a clue as to the damage they’re doing to our fundamental national security.
    If we were to be invaded tomorrow by an outside nation with a good size standing army, we don’t have the infrastructure at home to defend ourselves anymore, it’s all outside CONUS and overseas. And by the time the resources and personnel were sent back to CONUS it would be too little too late.
    The UN invading Chicago, and various reports of pre-positioned UN tanks, helicopters, and armored personnel carrier assets now sitting in Colorado and at other locations nationwide for starters.
    BRAC is a threat to U.S. national security, full stop and needs to be shit canned!
    I say to the JCS they need wake up and pull their heads out of their asses before its too little too late.

  12. J says:

    You hit the nail on the head when you said ‘Pentagon bean counters’. Think tanks who have hidden agendas (overseas lily pads aka 800 plus bases abroad in foreign countries) have been prodding the Pentagon and Congressional politicians and their staffs. Namely they don’t give a damn about Mom and Pop America, just like the Mercs (oops I meant the politically correct term Private Military Contractors) whose only concern is their bottom line and their personal skins that are constantly advocating unnecessary foreign wars involving the U.S..
    Pentagon Bean counters, Think Tanks with foreign agendas who have sold their American souls to the devil so-to-speak.
    Time that Mom and Pop America stopped the Pentagon’s bean counter bull shit and took back and slapped the pea wod out of the Pentagon bean counters who haven’t a clue as to the damage they’re doing to our fundamental national security.
    If we were to be invaded tomorrow by an outside nation with a good size standing army, we don’t have the infrastructure at home to defend ourselves anymore, it’s all outside CONUS and overseas. And by the time the resources and personnel were sent back to CONUS it would be too little too late.
    The UN invading Chicago, and various reports of pre-positioned UN tanks, helicopters, and armored personnel carrier assets now sitting in Colorado and at other locations nationwide for starters.
    BRAC is a threat to U.S. national security, full stop and needs to be shit canned!
    I say to the JCS they need wake up and pull their heads out of their asses before its too little too late.

  13. Bill H says:

    This discussion always gives rise, for me, to the question of what is the mission of the United States military. Is it to provide for the defense of the nation, or is it to support local economies throughout the nation? It seems to me that serving the latter purpose is in all liklihood detrimental to the former purpose.

  14. Mathiasalexander says:

    If industry has departed for cheaper offshore locations then where will the money to pay for the bases come from?

  15. LeaNder says:

    The economic aspect of US troops presence was one of the issues discussed over here in Germany, I vaguely recall. Removing US presence in Germany, moving it more East? Was that it? From that perspective Harper’s short contribution covers partly familiar ground for this outsider.

  16. Lars says:

    I live very close to Patrick AFB and many AF officers admit that that base does not have a critical military mission. It is however, a very popular base to be stationed at, especially for those at the end of their careers.
    If it was sold to private interests, it would generate a lot of money. There is the substantial ocean front undeveloped real estate. I imagine a lot of fairly large corporations would love to have offices there, with a large airfield next door. With the golf course and marina, it would be even more desirable.
    Patrick AFB barely made it in past base closings and I am sure at some point, it may be chosen. The economic fallout may even be positive, due to the location. I am sure the federal government could use a couple of billions too.

  17. turcopolier says:

    aka
    About 30 years ago DoD decided that there were a lot of facilities that were no longer needed because of various factors; the disappearance of the frontier, no need for coast artillery, a desire to move combat troops to large posts that had a lot of training area, and to be honest because the real estate people coveted the older places for the value of the land and buildings especially the houses. Local Congressional leaders were politically too cowardly to vote to close such facilities because of the loss of income to their constituents so a process was invented in which congress did not have to vote on closings. This process has been implemented in successive trenches and is a kind of juggernaut. The point of Harper’s piece is that the rich and highly taxed states have often been very approving of base closures that removed a lot of federal money from their states. This, however, does not keep these states from complaining that federal money is spent elsewhere. pl

  18. turcopolier says:

    mathiasalexander
    We have been paying for all that with borrowed money and will continue to do so. pl

  19. Fred says:

    Eadwacer,
    “When we talk about enlisting people who have been low performers in civilian life, who maybe have been in trouble with the law (“sentence suspended if you enlist”), who are otherly gendered, we are asking the same question, only at an individual level.”
    The prior administration was the only one to push the cultural marxist line that there are more than two genders. I’m sure when Senator Bradley Chelsea Manning is in office that will change. Those “low performers in civilian life” did a number of Germany and Japan’s best. You can read about it in the non-revised history books.

  20. LeaNder says:

    BX”
    raven, for whatever reason I recall that as PX in Berlin. Didn’t I pay enough attention on the consonants? But that was from a British Army environmental female perspective, admittedly, at the time. … Or should I start to consider b in Greece vs b in German consonant wise versus English/American/British variants in phonemes?

  21. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I am curious about the quality of roads on domestic US Military bases. Are they well constructed to endure well for long or are they of the same (or worse) quality as those of Michigan and NYC that are constructed by corruption infused local governments?

  22. turcopolier says:

    Babak
    On ground force bases that have large training areas there are a lot of dirt roads out in the field. in the cantonment areas or aerodrome areas it has always seemed to me that the roads were well built and maintained. This is an activity and responsibility of the installation engineer. pl

  23. turcopolier says:

    LeaNder
    The US army refers to its installations as “posts.” All the rest call theirs “bases.” pl

  24. upstater says:

    Domestic military bases should not be a substitute for economic development.
    Expansion of Ft. Drum had a huge economic impact on Northern NY State; the differences over the past 25 years are remarkable. Expansion was part of the “deal” Moynihan made by shutting down Griffiss (it still has research functions), Plattsburgh and Stewart.
    Obviously, if Ft. Drum closed, there would be a whole lot of hurt in northern NY. However, the region once had a vibrant manufacturing sector which has been largely off-shored. The Ag sector has been consolidated into factory farms, but the Amish are buying up a lot of abandoned smaller holdings. Away from Watertown, the entire region is being de-populated and has very limited high wage employment opportunities besides healthcare, education and prisons.
    The larger question is whether spending $1 Trillion on “all things national security” is providing necessary services at good value to the country. To me it seems to enrich all sorts of grifters and their coterie. There is a good reason that 7 out of the 10 richest counties in the US are in the DC suburbs.
    The contrast between Ft. Drum and CFB Kingston Ontario is striking. The Canadian base looks like an abandoned industrial site, while Drum hosts the equivalent of half the Canadian Army. If one had to choose between living in Watertown, NY and Kingston, ON, few would choose Watertown. How and where government spends its money has a huge impact on quality of life.

  25. raven says:

    It’s pretty fluid, that was what it was called locally but it was probably a NEX. “Exchanges are commonly called a Base Exchange (BX) on U.S. Air Force installations, and they are referred to as a Post Exchange (PX) in the U.S. Army. Exchanges on Army and Air Force installations are run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). Every exchange operated by the AAFES has been renamed simply as an Exchange to simplify differentiation between the similar-sounding BX and PX names.[citation needed]
    U.S. Navy installations and ships use a Navy Exchange (NEX) whereas the U.S. Marine Corps use a Marine Corps Exchange (MCX) for naval and marine locations afloat and ashore. U.S. Coast Guard bases include Coast Guard Exchange (CGX).”

  26. LeaNder says:

    oops, missed GA. Sorry raven. How was be abbreviation coined anyway? I guess I I may have once known. Still have this visual image of the place and its location. Did I mistake B for P then?
    Would this be helpful?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Army_and_Air_Force_Exchange_Service#Roots

  27. Huckleberry says:

    Why should the military, their bases, and the communities around them, be immune from the same sort of neoliberal discipline imposed on the industrial midwest, the Appalachian coal fields, etc. ? Those areas at least generated real economic activity which produced commodities and products rather than simply shuffling tax revenue from one hand to another.
    The performance of the military the past few decades has been unsatisfactory, in my view. I’ll allow that much of their portfolio has been Mission Impossible, but they’ve been unable to guard the borders of either the US or Europe, which seems a rather straightforward proposition. The only commodities they have secured seem to be opium.
    Perhaps some market discipline will improve their performance?
    A serious audit from top to bottom of the organizations (and their civilian contractors) – followed of course by indictments for negligence and accounting fraud – might provide a more accurate picture of where to begin. Maybe then we can find out if they have managed their equipment better than, say, Baltimore has it’s snowplows.
    Or is there something to military Keynesianism? If so, then why not apply this to other areas?

  28. turcopolier says:

    Huckleberry
    ” …guard the borders of either the US or Europe, which seems a rather straightforward proposition.” These are NOT assigned missions of the US military and have not been for many, many years, If you want to give the military responsibility for securing the southern border you should expect that there would be a lot of dead Mexicans and other foreign Latinos. pl

  29. turcopolier says:

    LeaNder
    Come on! Playing dumb? Whether they are called Post Exchanges, Base Exchanges, Marine Corps Exchanges, they are all service run not for profit stores on military installations. pl

  30. robt willmann says:

    Although from only a quick checking, I think that the following are the main laws passed by Congress on military base realignment and closure (BRAC).
    The first one was Public Law 100-526, signed by president Ronald Reagan on 24 October 1988. The text is not readily available because it is from around the year before digital versions of laws were created that could be easily found through a computer. The sponsor was the legendary Democratic Senator John Stennis of Mississippi–
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/100th-congress/senate-bill/2749/all-info?r=1
    The bill summary from the House conference report says–
    “Title II: Closure and Realignment of Military Installations – Directs the Secretary of Defense to: (1) close or realign all military installations as recommended by the Commission on Base Realignment and Closure; and (2) initiate and complete all such closures and realignments by specified dates.
    “Outlines administrative provisions relating to the following: (1) conditions required of the Secretary and the Commission with regard to such closures and realignments; (2) Commission membership and duties; (3) the implementation of such closures or realignments by the Secretary; (4) the applicability of certain current Federal laws to these provisions; (5) the waiver of certain restrictions in order to carry out these provisions; (6) studies and reports required of the Secretary; (7) funding (through the establishment and deposit of funds into the Department of Defense Base Closure Account); and (8) congressional procedures to be followed with regard to the consideration by both Houses of the Congress of the Commission’s report.”
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/100th-congress/senate-bill/2749
    Then, in an interesting twist, the next Congress, the 101st, addressed the subject again in Public Law 101-510, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1991, signed by president George Bush Sr. on 5 November 1990–
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/101st-congress/house-bill/4739/all-info
    It was in Title 24, parts ‘A’ and ‘B’ of the legislation, sections 2901-2926, called the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990–
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/101st-congress/house-bill/4739/text
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/101st-congress/house-bill/4739
    Recently, on 12 December 2017, Public Law 115-91, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, was signed by president Trump. It contains two sections on base realignment and closure, sections 2701 and 2702–
    “Sec. 2701. Authorization of Appropriations for Base Realignment and Closure Activities Funded Through Department of Defense Base Closure Account.
    Funds are hereby authorized to be appropriated for fiscal years beginning after September 30, 2017, for base realignment and closure activities, including real property acquisition and military construction projects, as authorized by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (part A of title XXIX of Public Law 101-510; 10 U.S.C. 2687 note) and funded through the Department of Defense Base Closure Account established by section 2906 of such Act (as amended by section 2711 of the Military Construction Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (division B of Public Law 112-239; 126 Stat. 2140)), as specified in the funding table in section 4601.
    “Sec. 2702. Prohibition on Conduction Additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Round.
    Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.”
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2810/text?r=7
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2810/text?format=txt&r=7
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/2810/all-info?r=7
    In section 4601 of this bill, down a ways in that section, is a list of funding for some BRAC activities.
    On a different topic, section 4602 is kind of interesting, with its title, “Sec. 4602. Military Construction for Overseas Contingency Operations (In Thousands of Dollars)”.

  31. TV says:

    Norfolk and San Diego.
    Did the Navy ever hear of Pearl Harbor?

  32. TV says:

    The JCS?
    LMAO.
    Politicians dressed up like doormen.

  33. Flavius says:

    The very reprehensible Madama Albright may have unwittingly pointed the way towards a truth with her condescending query to Colin Powell: “what’s the point of having this wonderful military if you don’t use it?” If that question doesn’t put in evidence a propensity to out of control miltary mission creep, I can’t think of anything that would. We are where we are today in great measure as a consequence of that ignorant utilitarian mindset towards the military. The Nation’s military is people who have signed on for the defense of the Nation, Madama Dumbo, and as has been said, “a Nation is a place people are willing to die for.”
    With that said, no doubt there are economic and social implications that reverberate through the politics of maintaining the institutional Military, the so called MI complex. I wouldn’t argue that they aren’t important, as they certainly are if you live in town that is about to be gutted, or further gutted after having lost a manufacturing reason for existence to China, Viet Nam, Indonesia, or somewhere like that. I would just argue that important as these considerations are, they are still of secondary importance. This means that if the place is without critical military significance it can expect lip service from the military planners and lip service as well from the virtue signaling Beltway politicians, particulary left wingers, who, apart from paying taxes, are free riders for what the military provides, National Defense; they don’t know any military people; don’t want to know any military people; and are interested in the institutional miltary only as a lab where they can run social engineering experiments. These people have zero emotional attachment to the military; and they have zero emotional attachment to the ‘deplorable’ little people in out of the way places that are affected by base closings.
    As I recall, back in the 80’s when Reagan was President and Koch was Mayor, and Brooklyn and Staten Island had more unreclaimed shithole neighborhoods that it currrently does, some consideration was being given to homeporting a carrier group in Staten Island with all the infrastructure spending and economic boost that such a commitment carried along with it. I think even Koch supported it because the city was not doing well at the time. The idea stayed afloat for little more than a New York minute before the anti-nukers mobilized to blow it out of the water. Make NY anymore of a target than it already was, nah – life is too good on the upper west side.
    Local support for the military beyond token lip service very much depends on where you are. Take my little NJ town. It’s been around for a while. The library has a memorial plaque in the vestibule: there are two long rows of names from the First World War; there are two longer rows of names from the Second World War; there are 3 names from Viet Nam, one of whom I happen to know was decorated with the Congressional Medal of Honor; there are no more names. In the local pub, there is a memorial box on display containing the American Flag that covered the funeral casket of the owner’s brother when he came home from Viet Nam. Most of the people who go in there don’t know Viet Nam from a place where Nike wound up making sneakers.
    This town voted 91% for Hillary Clinton, same number as the Upper West Side of Manhattan and gentrified Brooklyn. How would these people even begin to give thought to towns dying because a military reservation is being closed. Virtually none of them has ever been on a miltary reservation and they have no use for small towns. I think of these people and I think of my nephew who left his two legs in Afghanistan, one just below the knee and the other just above, and I try to imagine what it is that connects them. I do not have a ready answer to that, there is something deeply disordered in our national bloodstream.
    Maybe the places that offer their sons and daughters to the Military to be ill used as tools by our politicians deserve to be the beneficiaries of some uneconomic spending – maybe balance the ledger just a little.

  34. ann says:

    It’s time for universal service. Every citizen at 18: Two years to their country. Then we have a use for all the bases Stateside.

  35. Karl Kolchak says:

    So how is this any different from flat out welfare?

  36. Fred says:

    ann,
    There are close to 25,000,000 Americans between 18 and 24 years old. What are you going to do when you put all of them on active duty – effectively giving the US an armed force twice the size of what we had in WW2?

  37. scott s. says:

    BRAC was not just about closing bases, it also was a downsizing. We own a house just outside of Ft Ord in CA. 7th ID was terminated. But in general locals didn’t care that much, and in truth the area has made out pretty good since the development of Cal State Monterey Bay.
    Brooklyn Naval Shipyard was a building yard. It may not have been as cost effective as civilian yards, but it did give the USN hands-on expertise which it doesn’t get any more. We are totally dependent on contractors for naval architecture. The area around the old shipyard and Staten Island were built up as part of SecNav Lehman’s idea to move the fleet out of high concentration areas. So they were easy picking to get the “peace dividend”. We were also going to reopen Hunters Point (which the CA congressional delegation supported) but that fell victim as well. Then we closed Philly, Charleston, Mare Island, and Long Beach so we really have divested quite a bit of capability.
    Hawaii is a high tax blue state, but traditionally our US congressional delegation has been measured by its ability to bring home the bacon. That’s pretty much protected us, though they did close NAS Barbers Point and move the resident VP squadrons to MCAS K Bay. Since Sen Inouye’s passing we have been losing clout and when the P-3 squadrons retired they decided to base all the replacement P-8 squadrons at Whidbey Island WA.
    For overseas, I don’t think the metric of “number of bases” has much meaning. Actual combat power (brigades, wings/squadrons, and ships) is much more relevant).

  38. J says:

    Sadly, we need Generals with balls, like the now Retired Gen. Dempsey. So many do not have any real experience (Combat) to help shape their decision making.
    Too many coffee klatches and butter croissants, not enough K/C rats/MREs. Most wouldn’t know what to do with a green Lucky Strike pack in their Ks, let alone ever seeing Ks. IMO a prerequisite for being promoted to BG and beyond is having the mud the blood and the beer experience before they’re even considered.
    Damn, I miss Hack!

  39. turcopolier says:

    Scott S
    You are OT. The post was about the impact on local US economies of DoD expenditures. It was not about force structure. i should have deleted your comment. pl

  40. Green Zone Café says:

    Babak, the quality of roads on military bases vary, but are usually above that of local municipalities. On quiet bases, you will see cracking on the asphalt from the age of the road.
    Flavius mentioned the idea to homeport some of the Atlantic Fleet at Staten Island. A few ships were there for a brief period, and the end of the Soviet Union and cuts to the fleet led to the base’s closure. As was said it was purely political for Koch – Newport was already available for “strategic homeporting,” probably Naval Stations Earle and Bayonne as well.
    There is still a Navy Lodge there on Staten Island, however. That leads to another complaint. I used to be able to stay at the Ft. Myer and Ft. McNair Army Lodging when in the DC area for a reasonable price of $30-60 a night. The McNair lodging, which was a lovely old brick building on the banks of the Potomac, was closed. The Myer lodging was privatized, so it is now $150 a night. Worse, the Ft. Hamilton lodging in Brooklyn is also privatized by the Intercontinental Hotels Group. The Governor’s Island Coast Guard lodging is lost altogether. Used to be a great place to stay, and the free ferry to lower Manhattan was a feature. Ah well, the Soldiers’, Sailors’, Marines’, Coast Guard and Airmen’s Club on Manhattan is still open.
    To paraphrase Albright, what’s the point of having a military unless there are cheap lodgings and P/BXs all over the country for reservists and retirees to use? Thank God the Navy and Air Force haven’t succumbed to neoliberal privatization of base lodging like the Army did.
    It’s incredible that Ft. Drum would be on the list. It’s the only major Army facility in the Northeast, and if you have a “Mountain” division, is close to the Vermont National Guard mountain training course.

  41. ann says:

    I don’t suggest they would all be on active military duty for the full time. Service does not mean exclusively military service. I acknowledge the problem of perception abroad of having all our youth have military training. IF the Department of Education started out as a good idea, it has lost its way in many respects. And this project, too, could be hijacked. I think we need universal experiences as citizens of the U.S. and this plus an education in English, would be my second. In return I would offer two years of advanced training.

  42. Jack says:

    ann,
    I’m very supportive of this idea. A year of boot camp where no iGadget, TV, video games are permitted, followed by a year of service in our communities. I also believe we should reinstate the draft and have a law that kids and grandkids of all members of Congress and the executive branch are the first to be called up in a draft.

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    So, you want to subject the young people to the whims of an impersonal government bureaucracy in order to accomplish exactly what? Fill the pot holes of roads in Michigan, caused by generational corruption? Or go die on some shit hole country in order for a politician to get elected? And how about the comely young females in this scheme of things?

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The number was close to 12 million.

  45. Walrus says:

    I am trying to understand the logic of this discussion. Clearly the military establishment of the United States is gargantuan and therefore there is room to trim its size, or so I think.
    Such a trimming involves the closure of uneconomic or unneeded bases or facilities.
    That such a trimming involves local economic dislocation is understood.
    Are we therefore discussing how to ameliorate the economic effects of base closure and the best way to proceed for the public good? That I can understand.
    In Australia, like the USA, the military occupies some prime real estate, as far as I can tell as a result of defence imperatives of 150 years ago or more. North and Middle heads, Woollomoloo naval docks in Sydney are worth billions to property developers, as was Point Nepean and Queenscliffe Fort near Melbourne.
    To me these bases are public assets and in my opinion should be retained/repurposed for for public benefit if possible or disposed of in a transparent process if not.
    For example the old base and fortifications at Point Nepean, guarding the entrance to Port Phillip are now a national park after a fight with extremely well heeled property developers from the adjoining resort enclave of Portsea.
    http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/point-nepean-national-park

  46. turcopolier says:

    walrus
    You missed the point. The real estate involved is not highly valued by DoD however picturesque it may be. It is passe (French past participal). What Harper pointed out is that the high state income tax states typically claim that they do not receive enough federal money but they have been quite willing to see federal military installations go away with all the income they deposit locally. pl

  47. turcopolier says:

    jack
    If you had ever fought anyone you would know that you wouldn’t want these p—ies in the ranks. pl

  48. ked says:

    ‘To me these bases are public assets and in my opinion should be retained/repurposed for for public benefit if possible…”
    Agree completely. Given so many decisions are made poorly (ignorance &/or avarice), let’s defer to a future date, hoping policy-making isn’t as questionable. At least have a new set of decision-makers screw it up.
    The discussion reminds me of the many unfortunate consequences of how our society-at-large & military services subculture have split and drift further apart. Social behavior & values are context for economic decisions. The split is not a good thing in a republic. More reason to institute citizen public service on a national scale.

  49. steve says:

    Like Green Zone, I would dispute that people in the NE are glad to have bases close. In Pennsylvania closings have been fought. The only ones I can think of in Pennsylvania that went down w/o a big fight, and there was still a fight, were ones in the cities, and those closings did not adversely affect the communities. I would like to see this claim backed up with some real data.
    Steve

  50. turcopolier says:

    steve and GZC
    I have been in the military community all my long life and if you don’t think that the moneyed interests in these states were indifferent to the posts and hostile to the military presence then you have not paid much attention. there are exceptions. I watched Al d’Amato curse and scream at Clapper for an hour over two buildings at the nearly abandoned Army post at Ft. Totten , New York. the funny thing was that he had no idea what DIA did there. I loved it. Of course the local civilians wanted to keep their pay and contracts but that is meaningless. pl

  51. turcopolier says:

    ked
    Utter nonsense. Good luck on luring the civilian population of the Me! Me! generation into serving anything for two years. Good Luck! Have you heard of the CONGRESS? Public property? God gave these lands to the US government? Don’t you know any history at all? God does not make real estate deals, not here and not in Israel. I’ll give you an example’ Cameron Station on Duke Street in Alexandria, Virginia. a collection of industrial buildings that ended by being the headquarters of the Defense Supply Agency. The land was seized by the government during WW2. A supply depot for sending supplies overseas. The base closure commission got rid of the place by giving it to the City of Alexandria which sold the 100 + acres to developers. It is now covered by million dollar town houses. Public property? What a joke! pl

  52. dilbert dogbert says:

    Check out this wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidio_of_San_Francisco
    “fter a hard-fought battle, the Presidio averted being sold at auction and came under the management of the Presidio Trust, a U.S. government corporation established by an act of Congress in 1996.[9][19]
    The Presidio Trust now manages most of the park in partnership with the National Park Service. The trust has jurisdiction over the interior 80 percent of the Presidio, including nearly all of its historic structures. The National Park Service manages coastal areas. Primary law enforcement throughout the Presidio is the jurisdiction of the United States Park Police.
    One of main objectives of the Presidio Trust’s program was achieving financial self-sufficiency by fiscal year 2013, which was reached in 2006. Immediately after its inception, the Trust began preparing rehabilitation plans for the park. Many areas had to be decontaminated before they could be prepared for public use.
    The Presidio Trust Act calls for “preservation of the cultural and historic integrity of the Presidio for public use.” The Act also requires that the Presidio Trust be financially self-sufficient by 2013. These imperatives have resulted in numerous conflicts between the need to maximize income by leasing historic buildings, and permitting public use despite most structures being rented privately. Further differences have arisen from the divergent needs of preserving the integrity of the National Historic Landmark District in the face of new construction, competing pressures for natural habitat restoration, and requirements for commercial purposes that impede public access. As of 2007, there was only a rudimentary visitors’ center to orient visitors to the Presidio’s history.”

  53. ann says:

    I believe every citizen would serve. Comely or not. There is some military formula for combat v. backup. Which means there are many back up jobs that do not require combat readiness. As to what I would accomplish. Some unity of experience of being an American. Some usefulness of the years between 18 and 20 which seem too often spent in drugs and debauchery. A purpose beyond self.

  54. Green Zone Café says:

    What did DIA do in those buildings?
    D’Amato had a reputation for taking care of constituents. I looked him up, he’s now involved in a bizarre divorce with his much-younger wife.
    I’m only familiar with New England. Ted Kennedy fought to save the Boston Naval Shipyard and later Otis and Hanscom AFB. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard has hung on due to the combined efforts of the NH and Maine delegations (it is in Kittery, Maine, not Portsmouth, NH). While there might have been some elite leftist hostility to the military in general, or concern about nukes, there was no pot of gold in any of the bases for moneyed interests, given their location and the toxic contamination issues.
    Loring AFB hung on long past its usefulness, given that it was a SAC base would have been hit within like 3 minutes of a counterforce strike from sub-launched missiles.
    Many of the closed bases have remained government or reserve military in some way – the Boston shipyard, Devens, Pease, and Quonset Point/Davisville Naval Station are examples.

  55. Fred says:

    Babak,
    “…you want to subject the young people to the whims of an impersonal government bureaucracy…”
    We already do that in the public school system. Kids too young to pick thier own bed times now think they can pick their gender. Government employees taught them that.

  56. Fred says:

    steve,
    Key West Naval Station, closed in March of 1974. The city fathers at the time hated the navy.

  57. ked says:

    My hope for a future public service program is based upon my interactions with many young adults. I note a post-Me generation that doesn’t get attention. Maybe it’s only a Quiet Minority, but it is real… I see them do all sorts of things (some goofy) for broad (elderly) & niche (greenways) communities – they don’t seem to care so much about getting attention. Yeah, maybe there’s no active constituency for the concept anymore – Hey, naybe Trump could push it through … he could even feel better about his bone spurs.
    Having lived on & around gov property all my life I’ve experienced its arc. I don’t mean to generalize too much. Repatriation & reuse is a political function – handled well it has a strong local component – like politics usually does. Some of the best-preserved land in the East is gov property. Such grounds are now less common (& some are superfund sites!), esp near urban areas. I don’t see a push to rush into commercial development of ex-military bases.
    Ah, Cameron Sta! It’s distinct, don’t you think? A quasi-urban depot serving troops, double-dippers & then retirees (some even ending up living there? more irony) … the actual ice cream for the self-licking ice cream machine. Sometimes it felt like days I spent in that giant commissary… half of which was studying framed unit patches in the entry-way… the kinda thing 10 yr olds do. A strange thing when the GEM (or was it GEX?) opened on the nearby hill along Duke St. … two PXs so close, competing? Took awhile for me to work that one out. A more obscure logic than that of fallout shelters piled up for sale at the GEM during the Cuban Missile Crisis! Duck & Cover at MacArthur Elementry was a clue… that we were lying to ourselves about surviving Ground Zero (Dad’s office had been in a pretty substantial block house in N Dakota… that could maybe tolerate a near miss, so even this Cub Scout didn’t think my chances were so good on Janneys Ln). But I digress (& apologize for doing so). Anyway, even with odd chemicals & spent ordnance, there’s still some fine hunting on large bases across the South, and at times I’m a romantic.

  58. turcopolier says:

    GZC
    We de-briefed Soviet emigres there. pl

  59. Green Zone Café says:

    Excellent, close to Brighton Beach.

  60. turcopolier says:

    GZC
    We had several smallish buildings down by the boat dock and a few of the old sets of quarters for the de-briefers and subjects, kind of a halfway house. I remember that the old, abandoned officer’s mess had a facade built in the form of the Corps of Engineers insignia. pl

  61. turcopolier says:

    Sid Finster
    You are not paying attention. This has nothing to do with anyone’s theory of government and everything to do with local political pressure exerted upon members of Congress to keep these places open for the benefit of the local economy. pl

  62. Jack says:

    Sir
    I have not been in combat and agree that I am not competent to judge the best makeup of our fighting forces. I was too young for WW II and too old for Vietnam.
    My theoretical belief is that sending our kids to a year of bootcamp would do them and our country a world of good. Additionally another year in our communities will give them an appreciation of their fellow citizens beyond their own neighborhood.
    The draft idea is again another theoretical one on my part that it will provide a brake on unnecessary wars and to only fight existential ones. I am more of an isolationist at heart. Of course you have the direct experience of having to deal with draftees in Vietnam.
    I will naturally differ to your judgment based on real experience.

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