JDNews.com - May 29, 2012, By SUE BOOK – Freedom ENC
Meetings between local, state, and federal officials in Washington D.C. on the future of military bases and their civilian workforce in North Carolina on Thursday sent home a message highlighting both confidence and caution.
Attendees said they left feeling there will not be a Base Realignment and Closure process in 2013 but that 2015 is too far away to predict; that the life of Prowler aircraft at Cherry Point Air Station is extended until 2022; and that sequestration would be tough for all military bases.
“I walked away with the feeling, in fact they said as much, that our North Carolina bases are so excellent and have such an ability to provide for the needs of national security, and that the civilian workforces is so talented they are doing what is right to survive,” Gov. Bev Perdue said. “We have to be vigilant and we will continue to see personnel cuts, including military cuts … as financial resources become less and less.”
She said the efforts by the state to preserve military air space and avoid civilian encroachment on military facilities have been positively noticed.
“They said we are absolutely the leader in the country on the work we’ve done on encroachment — three different people said so — and we have been such a leader in helping to make military service in North Carolina positive,” Perdue said.
Perdue led a group including N.C. Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco and Military Affairs Director John Nicholson from Raleigh, the Governor’s Washington Office Director Jim McCleskey, and from Craven County, Commissioner Scott Dacey and James Norment and Hugh Overholt, both with Ward and Smith, which is coordinating the area’s civilian lobbying effort for Cherry Point and Fleet Readiness Center East.
They met with Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan individually, with seven members of the state’s congressional delegation and military affairs staff from the others, and with Pentagon officials including Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr.; Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos; Dorothy Robyn, the Defense Department deputy undersecretary of Defense for Installations and Environment; and other key DoD staff.
“It was a good day, a really good day,” Perdue said, praising the discussions that included Camp Lejeune and New River and Cherry Point air stations, Fort Bragg Army post and Pope Army Airfield and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. “I feel really hopeful. I am not worried about the survival of FRC-East.”
There was not the same direct knowledge of the bases from the congressional delegation and staff members, many of whom live and focus on non-military areas, she said.
Dacey said that going “through the numbers, that 41 percent of the people in our area depend on the $1 billion in salaries from the bases and that in Eastern North Carolina they have a $2 billion economic impact.”
He said Hagan and Burr have a different political approach to the financial concerns affecting the military, but both are working hard in their own ways.
Norment said Robyn and two separate Pentagon staff members said North Carolina is the best example in the country of how to ensure military sustainability.
“This is something we need to use to our advantage,” Norment said.
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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.