Local News

State Wants To Protect Smaller Military Bases From Closures

Posted January 10, 2005 4:44 a.m. EST

— In a few months, the federal government plans to decide which military installations to close worldwide. Some of the major posts and bases may be saved, but what about the smaller ones.

Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue is spear-heading efforts to protect the state's installations. She has not said which ones she is most worried about.

State Rep. Rick Glazier (D-Cumberland) assumes some people may question the value of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Cherry Point Air Station, but he said that is a mistake.

"I think there's certainly an argument, a strong argument that we can make, about all of our military bases. They do each serve an individual mission," he said.

WRAL military expert Ret. Lt. Gen. Robert Springer believes Seymour Johnson and New River Air Station could come under fire.

Still, Seymour Johnson is one of two air force bases with F-15E Strike Eagles. It also has a federal prison. New River is home to several helicopter squadrons and one of the few Osprey trial facilities. Springer feels the two bases should be able to defend their importance.

"Could we move that mission? Yes. Could we move any mission? Yes. Is it likely? I don't think so," he said.

State leaders said the military brings $18 billion to North Carolina's economy. They argue just because some installations are smaller does not mean they are expendable.

Perdue plans to go to Washington and various military installations in the upcoming months. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will submit his list of base closures in May.