Local News

N.C. Waiting For List Of Possible Base Closings

Posted May 12, 2005 6:17 a.m. EDT

— North Carolina is waiting to hear a major announcement from the Pentagon on Friday.

The Department of Defense will release a list of military bases it wants to close or realign.

Late Thursday afternoon, state officials joined a conference call with the Pentagon to try to get as much information as possible about North Carolina bases, as well as the chances of them appearing on that list.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld laid out the criteria used in selecting bases. He also said America's enemy is no longer the Kremlin, but al-Qaida, and that changes have to be made.

"Today the Department of Defense is again in need of change and adjustment," Rumsfeld said. "Current arrangements, pretty much designed for the demands of the Cold War, must give way to the new demands of war against extremists and other evolving 21st-century challenges."

In North Carolina, the most vulnerable bases may be the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base near Goldsboro.

"We know that the planes that they fly are fairly old and that they won't be around for the next hundred years," Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue said.

Perdue, who heads a task force to protect North Carolina bases and to support military families, has more than a passing interest in the Pentagon's list, and which North Carolina bases may be on it.

"It's personal," she said. "Cherry Point is the reason I'm living in North Carolina. My brother was stationed there. So, I feel like it's part of my lifestyle, my family. And it's the economic engine of the east. And if we lost those jobs, we would be terribly, terribly hurt."

Rumsfeld said the Pentagon would help ease the financial pain in the communities that are affected.

He also said that the list is actually smaller than first expected.

In a city like Goldsboro, however, it takes only one line on that list to completely change the way of life for residents.

"What I'm hoping for is that we have some realignment, and it's positive realignment," Perdue said. "And we'll end up at the end of the day saying 'Praise the Lord.'"

Perdue is scheduled to hold a news conference Friday at 1 p.m. in Havlock, near Cherry Point.