December 13, 2004: Headlines: COS - Tunisia: Politics: The Capital Times: Doyle pleads case for military bases

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Tunisia: Special Report: RPCV Jim Doyle, Governor of Wisconsin: Special Report: Governor and Tunisa RPCV Jim Doyle: December 13, 2004: Headlines: COS - Tunisia: Politics: The Capital Times: Doyle pleads case for military bases

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Doyle pleads case for military bases

Doyle pleads case for military bases

Doyle pleads case for military bases

Doyle pleads case for military bases
Citing economic effect, U.S. security, he asks Pentagon to keep sites
Posted: Dec. 13, 2004

Washington - With the Defense Department poised to close military bases, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle visited the Pentagon on Monday to ask that four facilities in Wisconsin be kept open.

At stake are military facilities at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, Truax Field in Madison, Fort McCoy in Monroe County and Volk Field in Juneau County.

In a meeting with a Pentagon official, Doyle said the combined yearly economic impact of $919 million at the installations was among reasons the bases should be kept open. The facilities employ 8,235 altogether, including military, civilian and contract workers.

Doyle also cited homeland security, the state's low ranking in per-capita military spending and strong support among local communities for the four sites.

Meeting later with reporters, Doyle said he was aware that a "parade of governors and congressmen" is making similar pitches, and that the defense official gave no hint of the future of the four installations.

He said, though, that a recent decision to curb training sharply during the winter at 61,143-acre Fort McCoy was "very, very worrisome." It was announced in October that 1,800 soldiers destined for the Sparta site would be shipped to other locations.

The cold winter weather was cited in that decision, but Doyle said that a prepared military needs more than warm-weather training. "It may be Iraq today, but - while I hope it won't be - it could be a colder-weather climate in the future, Korea or some other place," he said.

Defense officials have said the United States has 24% more capacity on its military bases than needed. Next year, as a result, the closing or realignment of some installations is to be announced. The rationales include saving money and helping transform the military for future conflicts.

A snapshot of the installations in Wisconsin:
# Mitchell is home to the Air Force Reserve 440th Airlift Wing and Air National Guard 128th Refueling Wing.

The 440th operates eight C-130H Hercules aircraft, and the 128th has nine KC-135R Stratotankers.
# Truax Field hosts the Air National Guard 115th Fighter Wing and Army National Guard 1st Battalion 147th Aviation unit.

The fighter wing, which operates 17 F-16 Fighting Falcon Air Force jets, guarded the skies after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Doyle said the facility - the nearest of its kind to Chicago, a seven-minute trip from Madison aboard an F-16 - remained important for homeland security and defense of the country's northern border.

The other aviation unit operates 14 Black Hawk helicopters and one C-26 fixed-wing aircraft.
# Fort McCoy, with a variety of tenants from the Guard and Reserves, has been used to mobilize troops for overseas combat duty. More than 30,000 have passed through there since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Fort McCoy is one of 15 "power projection platforms" in the U.S., which means it is a staging area for deploying troops. It also is known as a "total force fighting center," training people from all branches of military service.
# Volk Field, about 25 miles from Fort McCoy, is an Air National Guard base accessible to McCoy by I-94, I-90 and rail. The two are being positioned as the "best four-season region" in the U.S. to train and care for military members and families.

Doyle met with Phillip Grone, deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment. He said the session ran 30 to 45 minutes, and that Pentagon officials "did not in any way tip their hand."

Doyle said the country's north-central region and upper Midwest tended to be light on installations. In the last round of base closings in 1995, among those closed were Fort Sheridan, Ill., and Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. "That makes it more imperative that we maintain the four bases in Wisconsin," he said.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is to announce in May the bases that he recommends for closure or realignment. A Base Realignment and Closure Commission is to give President Bush an analysis of the recommendations. A final decision is expected in November.

Doyle said the four facilities in the state "very clearly" met Pentagon standards for installations to be retained. He said the criteria included training for joint operations and room for expansion. In the case of Fort McCoy, it has access to an additional 60,000 acres of state forests in Jackson County available through land-use permits.

Doyle said Fort McCoy and Volk supported the need to coordinate the military's active-duty, National Guard and Reserve components. Talking about Truax and Mitchell, he said they attract good people to the Guard and Reserves because of their locations.

Doyle said Wisconsin typically ranks 48th or 49th in the nation in per-capita military spending, so "to take away the bases we do have would be particularly harmful to us."

Doyle said he received assurances at the Pentagon that the evaluation would be fair, but in answer to a question, he did not rule out the possibility that politics would come into play.

Sen. Herb Kohl, like Doyle a Democrat, paid a visit to the Pentagon last week to make the case for Wisconsin's military facilities. Kohl sits on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Doyle delivered to Grone reports on Mitchell and Truax that Mead & Hunt of Madison prepared at a cost of $79,618. He also left a report on the Fort McCoy and Volk region, in which the Mississippi River Regional Planning Commission, which was given a $50,000 community development block grant from the Commerce Department, took the lead.

From the Dec. 14, 2004, editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Story Source: The Capital Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Tunisia; Politics



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