San Diego Union Tribune

May 7, 2004

Closing of bases opposed

OTTO KREISHER
COPLEY NEWS SERVICE

WASHINGTON For the second year in a row, a House Armed Services subcommittee is attempting to head off a round of military base closings scheduled for next year, but the effort faces the same uphill battle as the previous failed effort.

The subcommittee's chairman, Rep. Joel Hefley, R-Colo., and its senior Democrat, Rep. Solomon Ortiz of Texas, argued that the military is facing too many unresolved issues to risk closing facilities that might be needed later.

The U.S. military "is experiencing an extraordinary level of stress due to the war against terrorism and the effort to rebuild Iraq," Hefley said in a statement. "In addition, the Department of Defense is contemplating significant realignments of forces in Europe and Asia, even while it transforms its forces.

"For the Defense Department to make irreversible decisions to close or realign military installations before these changes have been fully considered by both DOD and Congress would be a terrible mistake," he said.

Hefley and Ortiz represent districts with military facilities that could be vulnerable in another round of closures. Several of the subcommittee's other members also represent districts with potentially vulnerable bases.