As many people are, I am concerned about the number of proposed base closings and realignments. There are an estimated 179,000 military and Department of Defense civilian jobs at stake. Moreover, there are hundreds of thousands of private-sector jobs at stake in the areas surrounding the affected installations.
My initial reaction was one of shock and outrage. But my feelings have since changed. These base closings are important and necessary for the strength of our country. We cannot afford to maintain an oversized, inefficient military, because it is no longer a valid excuse as an economic stimulant. Furthermore, the cold war is over and there are now major strategic changes affecting the United States.
On deciding which bases to cut, the military used a list of priorities drawn up by President Bush and Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. The priority list included the effects on mobilization, costs of maintaining versus closing bases, and the environmental and economic impact bases have on surrounding areas.
The estimated amount saved annually from proposed base closings and realignments is $3.1 billion. Some of this money will be spent to help communities affected by the closings. There are already many companies and organizations eyeing the base sites for their potential nonmilitary use. The National Health Care Task Force is looking into using the nine major military hospitals included on the list as part of a possible national health-care system. This round of base closings is a continuation of the downs izing and not a demobilization of the military. A military of our present size should not be maintained as an economic stimulus in a time when we must push ahead to a new economic era. Scott B. Ramsey, Chapel Hill, N.C.
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