UTSanDiego.com - March 28, 2013, By Michael Gardner
SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown has selected a number of San Diego leaders to be part of a new team charged with developing strategies to shield California from military budget cuts and base closures while at the same time promoting the state as an ideal location for new defense industry jobs.
“California plays a crucial role in our nation’s defense, and military bases and activities are vital to our state’s economy,” Brown said in appointing his new Military Council Thursday.
“As federal priorities shift to cyber security and new military technology, this council will work to expand defense industry jobs and investment in California,” continued Brown’s statement.
The Military Council is expected to convene for the first time later this spring. Brown has asked members to have recommendations to him within a year.
In a statement, Larry Blumberg, executive director of the San Diego Military Advisory Council, cheered the announcement.
“Local communities across the state — from San Diego to small towns — will benefit from this state leadership as we seek to retain and grow our bases.”
President Barack Obama, Congress and the Department of Defense are in the process of establishing new priorities as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wind down and the focus shifts to prioritizing Asia and cybersecurity.
Federal budget cuts are already being felt and there could be another round of base closings in the years ahead.
San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox noted the importance of the military presence. “With one in four jobs in San Diego County linked to the military and budget cuts coming down the pipeline, the council’s creation comes at a crucial time to solidify the region’s well-being,” Cox said in a statement.
Added Mark Cafferty, president of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp: “Forming the council is one way of ensuring that we are protecting this crucial pillar of our economy.”
Military spending contributed nearly $32 billion to the county’s economy in 2012, according to one study.
The 18-member council includes several former military officers from the San Diego region and current Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, an Oceanside Republican and retired Marine colonel.
Other local representatives include:
— Mary Lyons, president of the University of San Diego and former commanding officer of Naval Reserve units.
— Anthony Jackson, director of the state Department of Parks and Recreation and a retired Marine Corps major general. He once served as commanding general of Marine Corps Installations West at Camp Pendleton.
— Dennis Kenneally, executive director of the Southwest Defense Alliance, a coalition of defense interests in six states. A retired major general, he served as commanding general of the California Army National Guard.
— James Johnson, a former director of TRICARE Regional Office West who once served as the chief executive officer of Naval Medical Center San Diego. He is a retired rear admiral.
Chairing the council will be Ellen Tauscher, a former member of Congress and once high-ranking official in President Barack Obama’s State Department.
The members will not be paid.
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