Union Tribune

May 26, 2007

Feinstein objects to plan to move command east

She says it should stay with SEALs

By Paul M. Krawzak

 Sen. Dianne Feinstein has taken aim at the Bush administration's proposal to move the headquarters of the Naval Special Warfare Command from Coronado to Virginia.

Feinstein, D-Calif., stated her objections in a Wednesday letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The note was made public yesterday.

“I question whether this move . . . will significantly improve the (command's) ability to train and deploy Navy SEALs,” Feinstein wrote.

A Navy official first disclosed the relocation plan during a congressional hearing earlier this year. More than 2,500 people work for the command at Coronado Naval Amphibious Base, which is situated on the Silver Strand south of Coronado.

The shift to Little Creek would take place in 2010 or 2011. The command oversees the Navy's underwater-demolition and SEAL teams, which would remain in Coronado.

Feinstein said she was especially “troubled” because the intended relocation was not recommended during the Pentagon's most recent round of military base closings and realignments. She also expressed skepticism about moving the headquarters away from the main training area for Navy SEALs.

“It makes sense that the Naval Special Warfare Command headquarters should be co-located with their primary training activities like all other special warfare commands,” Feinstein wrote.

A spokesman for Feinstein said she hasn't heard back from Gates.

Ken McGraw, a spokesman for the U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fla., said the Navy unit's headquarters is growing and needs more space. He also said the shift would place the unit closer to the inter-service Special Operations Command and other commands on the East Coast.

Two sites in Virginia are being considered for the move – Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in Norfolk and Fort Story in Virginia Beach, McGraw said.

Bush has asked for $51 million in the 2008 budget to pay for the relocation.