Last week, officials from Our Fair State went before the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to try to convince them to not close Ft. Monmouth. The Pentagon has proposed combining Ft. Dix, McGuire AFB and Lakehurst Naval Air Station into one big mega-base; Rush Holt and others from our area want Ft. Monmouth included in that merger. (G.D. over at B. and A. provides us with links to Rush Holt's testimony.)
The mega-base is a great idea. Rep Jim Saxton (R-Mount Holly) stated:"These three bases already make up the only joint Army-Navy-Air Force installation in the country. They are a model of our armed services working jointly, with elements of active duty, reserve and National Guard forces working side-by-side." Consolidation is often useful in reducing costs and redundancies; we welcome efforts to do just that. But, is Fort Monmouth going to made it in?
I've heard it said that several of these base closings are "punishments" for blue states. Now, I love a good conspiracy theory as much as anyone, but folks, it just ain't so. Fort Monmouth has been on the chopping block for years now. It only made it through rounds of base closings in 1988 and 1993 by taking major reductions in work force. Our NJ reps tried to explain to the BRAC that if Monmouth closes, only about 20% of the work force will relocate to the new facility, in Aberdeen, MD. Unfortunately, that may be just the thing the Commission is counting on to happen.
I have friends who work at Fort Monmouth. They are resigned to the closure. Unlike the majority, my friends have decided to move and follow their jobs south. They get a couple years before the actual switch is made, so there is time to plan. But, they have no illusions that the BRAC is going to change their position. So I guess we can keep our fingers crossed and hope for a change of heart, and express thanks to the legislators who are giving it their best shot as they have to do, but don't expect a miracle.