May 15, 2005


As military realigns bases, the South wins (Mark Sappenfield and Patrik Jonsson, 5/16/05, CS Monitor)

During the past four base-closure rounds, success was a simple equation for military towns: Don't lose the base. With the release of the Pentagon's new list last Friday, however, it has become obvious that this year, for the first time, there will be actual winners - and that overwhelmingly, the core of American military might is shifting southward.

Unlike past rounds, when the Defense Department cut through its bases with broad strokes, seeking to maximize cost savings after the cold war, this year's list is about aligning America's network of bases for the needs of the next century. In the South, the Pentagon has apparently found its ideal environment: proximity to the coasts for rapid deployment, cheap and plentiful land, and a culture more tied to martial traditions.

For Starr Whitmore of Goldsboro, N.C., it means an influx of jobs that will allow her to open two more cafes. And for the rest of the nation, it marks a new sort of military retrenchment, as the armed forces contract their national footprint somewhat and concentrate on fewer, larger bases increasingly clustered in the southern quarter of the country.

"Virginia and Texas have bigger militaries that just about anybody on the planet," says John Pike, a defense analyst at With this realignment, he adds, "It's accentuated."

Funny to think that either Virginia or Texas by itself is probably the second greatest military power in the world.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 15, 2005 6:40 PM

The big concern all week here in the Richmond area was just how much pain the state would have to bear. It came as a great relief to the big military hubs here that, on the whole, the state would end up gaining positions. The only base that faces is closure is one fort that was originally built to defend the chesapeake bay from naval invasion.

Posted by: at May 15, 2005 8:02 PM

You mean in the same wayt that North Dakota used to be the world's third largest nuclear power?

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at May 15, 2005 8:08 PM

Damn it Raoul! North Dakota is still the world's third largest nuclear power!

Posted by: Bartelson at May 15, 2005 10:37 PM

[C]heap and plentiful land...

Probably the biggest factor.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 15, 2005 10:47 PM

Dang it we need those military bases in Minnesota. Who else will protect us against the Canadians massing on the border?

Posted by: Gideon at May 15, 2005 11:42 PM

We'll have to see how this plays out. Ironic watching Dem politicians who trash the military at every turn screaming that the base in their district is being closed.

Here in New England the talking point is that the GOP will be hurt as Bush and Co. will be seen as the ones closing the bases and causing job losses.

Posted by: AWW at May 15, 2005 11:47 PM

So they'll vote Democrat again next time?

Posted by: oj at May 15, 2005 11:50 PM

Land's probably not the biggest factor. We're not building new installations stateside and haven't for a number of years. Unless the Army wants to move the National Training Center from Ft. Irwin to someplace else there isn't a need for much new acreage.

Posted by: joe shropshire at May 16, 2005 12:17 AM

Hugh Hewitt makes the point that this can be used by the Bush adminstration for hardball in re the coming Senate votes:

I.e.: Senator, you don't want x based in your state closed. Vote for the judges and Bolton and we'll see what we can do. Vote against them, and well . . .

I love it.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at May 16, 2005 1:23 AM

joe shropshire:

The NTC is the Army's premier training facility, but moving your entire division, plus equipment, to Cali really eats into the training budget.
Having a local maneuver area is cheaper, and you don't have to schedule training around other divisions' needs.

As I understand it, the lack of maneuver room was the primary reason that the 1st ID was pulled out of Ft. Riley.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at May 16, 2005 7:07 AM