Archive for Friday, May 13, 2005

Fort Leavenworth spared closure

May 13, 2005

— Fort Leavenworth would experience a net gain of 217 jobs and an estimated $65 million in new construction if the Defense Department's recommendations to the Base Alignment and Closure Commission are accepted.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld released his recommendations Friday morning in Washington. Not only was Fort Leavenworth spared closure, it would gain 212 military positions and five civilian positions under the recommendations.

"Fort Leavenworth still continues in its tradition of serving as the intellectual center of the Army," said Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. "This will add greatly to the already excellent track record of innovative leadership so important in today's armed forces."

The 217 new jobs would come from establishment of the Midwestern Joint Regional Corrections Facility, according to a news release issued this morning from Fort Leavenworth's public affairs office. Fort Leavenworth is home to the Department of Defense's only maximum security prison, the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks

The Midwestern Joint Regional Corrections Facility would relocate correctional functions from Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, Fort Knox, Ky., and Fort Sill, Okla.

The recommendation, the news release said, is part of a larger proposal to create a series of joint regional correctional facilities for the Department of Defense.

None of Kansas' four major military installations were on the closing list. The lone installation in Kansas targeted for closure was the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant and its 167 jobs in Parsons.

Fort Riley was the state's big winner, gaining 2,400 troops, 440 civilian jobs and the return of the First Infantry Division headquarters and support battalion.

Leavenworth and Lansing officials contributed to a state task force that was set up to make Kansas' case to the military not to close any installations in the state. They say the economic contribution of the fort to the local economy is huge.

"While it's only the beginning of the process," Roberts said, "the list released today goes a long way in removing the BRAC cloud that has long loomed over the state's military installations."

In all, the Pentagon proposed closing about 150 military installations across the country, including 33 major bases. The Defense Department estimates the proposed closings could save the government $50 billion over a 20-year period.

Rumsfeld will submit his recommendations to the BRAC Commission and Congress on Monday. Once those recommendations are submitted, the commission will hold hearings and examine the recommendations. The commission process runs through September. The commission sends an "all-or-nothing list" to the president, meaning the president can approve all of the closures and realignments on the list or disapprove the entire list. If he approves, the list goes to Congress.

The House and Senate have 45 "legislative days" to disapprove the list. If they do nothing, the list automatically is approved.

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