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State Commission to Advocate for Military Bases

The Citizen's Voice - September 17, 2012, By Robert Swift

Harrisburg - As a proactive move, Gov. Tom Corbett created a state commission Monday to advocate for both the long- and short-term interests of Tobyhanna Army Depot in Monroe County and other military installations across Pennsylvania.

The governor appointed Sen. John Blake, D-Archbald, to the PA Military Community Protection Commission, which faces looming challenges with $500 billion of automatic defense cuts starting next year and a prospect for future rounds of base closings.

"We will fight, if needed, to save these bases," said Corbett. "We intend to make certain that changes don't come at the expense of national security or needlessly slight Pennsylvania."

He said the military installations are important not only to national security, but also vital to Pennsylvania's economy, the defense-related manufacturing sector and the communities that have grown up around them.

Tobyhanna has proved its worth to the Army during the war on terrorism with a highly skilled work force that specializes in electronics repairs, said Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig, the state adjutant general.

"I would be very concerned as a professional military officer to be closing any of those depots in the state," Craig said.

The commission will also try to steer defense department work to in-state installations by emphasizing their value, said Blake, who attended the announcement of the commission's formation.

Tobyhanna's importance will grow as the armed services rely more on high-end electronics, he said.

Corbett said he wants to make sure that cuts in defense spending as part of "sequestration" don't compromise national security concerns at Tobyhanna.

Automatic cuts in defense spending and other federal programs over 10 years are part of a debt-reduction deal reached by Washington in 2011.

There is also speculation that the federal Base Realignment and Closing Commission will launch another review of military installations in coming years, Blake said.

Blake and Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Chambersburg, discussed the need for a commission several months ago with Corbett. Letterkenny Army Depot is in Alloway's district.

The two senators helped create a caucus of lawmakers last year to protect what they describe as 164,000 defense-related jobs in Pennsylvania and obtain federal funds to modernize and upgrade defense-related infrastructure.

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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.

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