Tags: Warner: | Senate | Will | Fight | Close | Excess | Bases

Warner: Senate Will Fight to Close Excess Bases

Wednesday, 26 September 2001 12:00 AM

The Senate approved base closings by a vote of 53-47 Tuesday but the House rejected it when it passed the $345 billion 2002 defense authorization bill. That bill includes money for national security-related spending at the Energy Department.

At a brief morning news conference outside the Pentagon, Warner said "it remains to be seen" whether the Senate will succeed in getting the president's "Efficient Facilities Initiative" in the final conference version of the 2002 defense authorization bill.

"I fought hard to get that to remain in the bill," he said. "Therefore, it will be a contentious conference item."

"It's essential this authority be given … to the secretary of defense and the president," he said.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld contends the Defense Department is carrying, at considerable cost to the taxpayer, at least 20 percent more bases than it needs given the size of the military. He has estimated that closing bases can save around $3 billion a year. More important these days, however, may be the security and "operational tempo" problems posed by extra bases, he suggested Tuesday.

More bases means military police and guards must be more thinly spread and therefore spend more time on the job protecting those areas.

"If we are able to over time reduce the number of bases we have and provide the kind of force protection that's appropriate for the number of bases we need, as opposed to the number of bases we have…that is an important step in dealing with the problems of op tempo, which, … with all the demands on the Pentagon in the period since, have become even more noticeable," Rumsfeld said on Tuesday.

Rumsfeld called more than a dozen members of Congress to the Pentagon for an early meeting Wednesday to brief them on the Quadrennial Defense Review. Warner said the document, which contains Rumsfeld's blueprint for the military for the next four years, could be released as early as Friday.

It will focus heavily on how the military intends to provide "homeland defense" - a mission the Pentagon has not yet detailed.

"You will find in the QDR specific allocations of money and tasks for homeland defense," Warner said.

The QDR leaves intact the 12 active duty aircraft carrier force, a subject close to Warner's heart.

"We are pleased to see aircraft carriers remain and are given important new missions," he said.

The Pentagon's newly drawn veil of secrecy seems to be extending to Capitol Hill as well. At least 10 normally voluble members of Congress passed by a large contingent of reporters, cameras and microphones without comment. Warner spoke on their behalf.

Copyright 2001 by United Press International. All rights reserved.

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The Senate approved base closings by a vote of 53-47 Tuesday but the House rejected it when it passed the $345 billion 2002 defense authorization bill. That bill includes money for national security-related spending at the Energy Department. At a brief morning news...
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2001-00-26
Wednesday, 26 September 2001 12:00 AM
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