Pentagon may renew push to close some California bases

Squeezed by the 2011 budget sequester, the Pentagon is eager to launch the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process for the sixth time to close down thousands of facilities it says it no longer needs — freeing up billions of dollars in funding.

This could be bad news for California, which has 322 military installations pumping billions of dollars into the local economy around the Golden State. Eighteen of the bases are classified as large, triple the number of any other state.

While the Defense Department’s call for BRAC cuts have been routinely rebuffed by Congress since the 2005 round, this time it’s getting a friendlier reception. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Washington, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said last week that he supported another round of BRAC cuts in 2018 and had introduced the Military Infrastructure Consolidation and Efficiency Act toward that end.

The ranking Republican and Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee — John McCain of Arizona and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, respectively — appeared ready to back a new BRAC if the idea was supported by new Defense Secretary James Mattis, who wants to target Pentagon waste but has not weighed in to date specifically about BRAC.

According to a Pentagon report to Congress last April, military leaders believe they could close 22 percent of all bases with no loss in defense capabilities.

Pentagon officials want to make sure the commission that designates bases for closure after receiving a list of recommendations from the various armed services is truly independent. The 2005 BRAC was considered a success by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other California officials because the Golden State escaped any major hits. But it was seen as a disaster by the Defense Department because political interference sharply reduced savings from closings.

Pentagon has targeted Norco base before

If the BRAC process is revived, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Norco, shown above in a 2011 U.S. Navy photo, could be the California facility that is most at risk. The center, which employs more than 1,200 people and generates $150 million annually for the local economy, has been targeted for closure repeatedly by the Pentagon, most recently in 2005, only to win reprieves from the BRAC commission.

The possibility of a new BRAC round was seen as big news in San Diego County, home to the largest concentration of military personnel in the United States.

But while the county could have to deal with losing some facilities, it also has a chance to benefit from BRAC. The Washington Times reported in 2012 that Navy officials were interested in consolidating operations by moving warships from Washington state to San Diego. The need for such consolidations remains huge, according to former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

The base-closing process was launched by the Reagan administration and Congress in the late 1980s as the Cold War wound down and the threat posed by the Soviet Union waned.


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  1. Mike
    Mike 1 February, 2017, 09:19

    The closing down of military bases is a great thing for California. This is in perfect alignment with the states progressive vision.
    President Trump should support this.

    Reply this comment
  2. Terry
    Terry 1 February, 2017, 10:09

    Want to be a sanctuary state without any money form the US Govt here is a great place to start.
    I am astounded to see CA politicians take an oath to the US Constitution and then proclaim a sanctuary state. How can we make them honor their oath? They need to be removed from office for dishonoring it.

    Reply this comment
  3. tmaddison
    tmaddison 1 February, 2017, 10:10

    Yes, short term painful, but long term cutting waste in military spending is a far, far better thing.

    To give the military a billion dollars to spend in California likely requires giving the federal government two or three billion from tax dollars, so NOT funneling that money through the bureacracy to get it back to CA taxpayers is a good thing…

    Reply this comment
  4. Sally1776
    Sally1776 1 February, 2017, 12:21

    saw this coming with talk of secession from United States of America

    Reply this comment
  5. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 1 February, 2017, 14:13

    This is appalling. Congress should not be cutting defense, they should be making sure we are funding our bases adequately and stop closing them down. Every time they cut back, it sends a message to the lunatics of the world that we are not prepared to defend ourselves. There will come a day when they figure we will not be able to. What do you think will happen then?

    Reply this comment
    • tmaddison
      tmaddison 1 February, 2017, 16:29

      Likely you missed the recent news that the DOD had commissioned a study of waste in the military, discovered $125 billion, and then buried the study, right? Google it.

      Combine that with greatly reducing our presence in countries that can well defend themselves (do we REALLY need 60,000 troops in Okinawa and the same number in Germany?) and we could cut the defense budget in half and still do the best job in the world of defending our country.

      If you think “not spending more” = “not defending our country”, you really don’t understand how government spending works, right?

      Reply this comment
      • Standing Fast
        Standing Fast 2 February, 2017, 10:42

        Well, I guess the people whose opinion matters to me the most are the folks we send around the world wearing the uniforms of the U.S. Armed Forces.

        I don’t think you understand what peacekeeping is about. It is not “making nice” with bullies and tyrants and terrorists. It is making them figure it isn’t worth it to mess with us.

        Reply this comment
        • tmaddison
          tmaddison 2 February, 2017, 14:15

          Great, then we agree, since the base closures were recommended by the Pentagon as not necessary for military readiness or defense any longer.

          Glad we could agree on that!

          Reply this comment
  6. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 1 February, 2017, 15:08

    I woulld rather see sancuary cities shut down instead and their mayors and city councils placed under arrest and for fools like mike to stop puffing on your hooka

    Reply this comment
  7. Mike
    Mike 1 February, 2017, 15:31

    The religion of peace would do a great job in California. Gay marriage , transgender rights are certainly causes the Imams would embrace. Close the military bases, secede, welcome in the Iranians.California would flourish like never before.

    Reply this comment
  8. Queeg
    Queeg 1 February, 2017, 22:28


    LBJ destroyed aerospace in California moving ship, missle, space work to Texas.

    President Trump has such a soft spot for Penna, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin and Florida and North Carolina and Maine… touching.

    Reply this comment
  9. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 2 February, 2017, 08:03

    Islam is not the RELIGION of PEACE they still use criuel and unsual punishments that are prophited by our U.S. Constitution

    Reply this comment
  10. Semler Comodifications
    Semler Comodifications 2 February, 2017, 09:47

    Chain of command and oath of office concerns.
    Is the Governor or the U.S. Pres./C.I.C. in charge of;
    #1]the CA. National Gaurd ?
    #2]the Ca. Highway Patrol ?
    #3]Ca. county Sheriffs Depts.?

    Assert control now Jerry
    or lose all authority to CHAOS……
    the controlled chaos of Wash.DC darksidedness!!!
    Is Senator Harris willing to act as Ambassador?

    Reply this comment
  11. Standing Fast
    Standing Fast 2 February, 2017, 09:53

    Well, if California secedes from the Union, it won’t do the U.S. any good to keep military bases open and operating here now, will it? Maybe people better start taking this stupid secessionist “movement” seriously and start saying “No Calexit!”

    Reply this comment
  12. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 2 February, 2017, 13:25

    Oh yes mike watch as islamics carry two smooching gay men and throw them off the tops of the tall buildings in L.A. the rainbow boys going SPLAT,SPLAT,SPLAT

    Reply this comment
  13. Mike
    Mike 2 February, 2017, 20:00

    Gays are tough. They will be ok.

    Reply this comment
  14. Spurwing Plover
    Spurwing Plover 11 February, 2017, 14:58

    Mike. Thats not what i’ve seen buckeroo

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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