The Pentagon Friday proposed closing 43 domestic military bases and realigning 28 others in the United States as it prepares to reduce the 2 million-member U.S. armed forces by nearly 500,000 over the next six years.
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney scheduled an afternoon news conference on the bases, but a list submitted to Congress and obtained by Reuters showed the Pentagon wanted to shut 31 major bases, including Fort Ord, Calif.; Fort Dix, N.J.; the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard; and 14 Air Force bases.At the same time, the U.S. military in Europe announced Friday that it would close or reduce the size of 32 additional bases in Europe and the United Kingdom as part of a force reduction and budget-cutting effort.
New federal rules greatly inhibit the ability of Congress to change base-closing plans, although lawmakers always oppose such moves in their home areas because the move can cost jobs and votes in areas where the local economy rests on Pentagon paychecks.
The list of 31 major domestic bases proposed for closure includes seven Army, nine Navy and 14 Air Force installations and the Marine Corps Air Station at El Toro, Calif.
Forces would be reduced or realigned at 28 smaller facilities, including 17 Navy, 10 Army and one Air Force. Those realignments actually include some increases in military and civilian personnel as they are shifted from other bases.
Cheney will submit the list to the independent Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, which can make changes before sending it to the White House for submission to Congress. But President Bush or Congress would have to either accept or reject the list without making changes.
Under federal law, Cheney can close overseas bases without congressional approval. The changes in European bases - mostly Germany - announced Friday would be in addition to his announcement last year that more than 150 facilities outside the United States would be closed or reduced in the next few years.
Among the major bases proposed for closure Friday:
ARMY: Fort McClellan, Ala.; Fort Chaffee, Ark.; Fort Ord, Calif.; Ford Benjamin Harrison, Ind.; Fort Devens, Mass.; Fort Dix, N.J.; and Sacramento Army Depot, Calif. (All of Fort Chaffee will be turned over to the Army Reserve along with parts of Fort Devin and Fort Dix. Part of Fort McClellan will be used by the Alabama National Guard).
NAVY: Long Beach Naval Station, Calif.; Naval Air Station Moffett Field, Calif.; Hunters Point Annex of Treasure Island Naval Station, Calif; Philadelphia Naval Station and Naval Shipyard, Pa.; Chase Field Naval Air Station, Texas; Puget Sound Naval Station, Wash.; Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, Wash.; and Orlando Naval Training Center, Fla.
AIR FORCE: Williams Air Force Base, Ariz.; Eaker AFB, Ark.; Castle AFB, Calif.; Lowry AFB, Colo.; Moody AFB, Ga.; Grissom AFB, Ind.; England AFB, La.; Loring AFB, Maine; Wurtsmith AFB, Mich.; Richards-Gebaur Air Reserve Station, Mo.; Rickenbacker Air Guard Base, Ohio; Myrtle Beach AFB, S.C.; Bergstron AFB, Texas; and Carswell AFB, Texas.