Aug 26 2005

SHELBY COMMENDS ALABAMA BRAC DECISIONS

WASHINGTON, DC -- Following three days of deliberations by the Base Realignment and Closing (BRAC) Commission, U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) commended the BRAC Commission for recognizing Alabama's contributions to our national defense.

Senator Shelby said, "I am extremely pleased with the overall results of the BRAC Commission's deliberations. Since the Department of Defense (DoD) first made its recommendations in May, we have worked closely with Alabama's military installations to provide solid arguments to the Commission regarding the military value of our bases."

"Our most significant victory was the BRAC Commission's decision to reverse DoD's recommendation to transfer more than 1000 jobs from Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base to Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. I believe we made a strong argument to the Commission that relocating the Operations and Sustainment Systems Group (OSSG) did not provide any cost savings or synergistic gains, and the Commission's decision to strike this recommendation showed that our case was rock solid. Keeping the OSSG at Maxwell-Gunter is good for the warfighter, has significant military value, and will keep over 1000 jobs in the Montgomery community. This decision illustrated the Commission's recognition of operational expertise of the mission, which could not be realistically duplicated anywhere else in the nation," Shelby added.

Redstone Arsenal will also see significant gains, as this installation will be the new home to the Army Materiel Command (AMC) headquarters, the Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) headquarters as well as significant assets from the Missile Defense Agency (MDA).

Senator Shelby said, "Moving AMC's headquarters to Redstone Arsenal will result in cost savings and collocation with similar missions, and I look forward to welcoming General Griffin and Command headquarters to Huntsville. I believe the decision to move SMDC headquarters and parts of MDA to Redstone makes perfect sense as Redstone is currently home to a majority of SMDC's missions and a number of MDA functions. Further, the collocation of these two missions will significantly improve joint activities. This move will establish a Missile Defense Center of Excellence and enhance jointness between MDA, SMDC, the Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM), and NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center."

"I was also very pleased with the Commission's decision to keep the 117th Air Refueling Wing in Birmingham. Over the last several months, we worked closely with The Adjutant General and the Alabama Air National Guard to reinforce the 117th's value to the Commission. I believe we made strong arguments that demonstrated the importance of the unit to our nation's security. The Commission made the right choice for our nation by keeping the 117th open to serve our country," Shelby continued.

In addition, Alabama will benefit from the gains at Ft. Benning in Georgia. Ft. Benning will see more than 2,300 permanent troops and 8,000 students annually realigned from the Armor School in Ft. Knox. Senator Shelby said, "This is great news for Phenix City and neighboring areas. The potential economic growth in East Alabama will be significant."

However, with the positive developments during the BRAC Commission's deliberations, there were also some disappointments. Both Anniston Army Depot and Ft. Rucker had expected to gain thousands of jobs due to realignment of assets from other bases.

Senator Shelby said, "Upon learning of the decision to keep Red River Army Depot in Texas open, I was disappointed because I continue to believe that Red River has excess capacity and that there is significant justification for closing this depot. However, despite the fact that we will not gain from the elimination of excess capacity at Red River, I have every confidence that the Anniston Army Depot will continue to serve the maintenance needs of the Army now and into the future."

"Further, I strongly disagreed with the Commission's decision to leave the Aviation Logistics School at Ft. Eustis rather than relocate it to the Aviation Center and School at Ft. Rucker. I believe that the consolidation of institutional training with other aviation units at a single installation promotes force stabilization and consistency in training and would have created manpower savings. I am confident that Ft. Rucker will continue to grow in the future as the Army brings forth new missions and platforms for the aviation branch," Shelby added.

"The final outcome of the BRAC process has Alabama situated well into the future, and it is clear that the Commission recognized the value of our installations. Throughout this process, the Congressional delegation, Governor Riley and Alabama's military base communities worked diligently and provided strong arguments to the Commission based on military value, facts and statistics. It was always our goal to underscore why Alabama plays an integral role in the defense of this country, and I believe we made an effective case and were able to increase our already strong military presence," Shelby concluded.

The BRAC Commission will submit its final report to President Bush by September 8. At that time, he will review the report and either approve or disapprove it in its entirety. If approved, the President will forward the report to Congress for legislative action.

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