WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney is preparing to call for the closure of more than 30 major military bases.
Fifteen months after Cheney sparked a political firestorm by asking Congress for authority to close or shrink scores of military bases, the defense secretary has prepared a revised list to be presented tomorrow to an independent commission assigned to review the proposals.
The base closings and reductions being sought by Cheney are part of an overall strategy to shrink U.S. military forces by about 25 percent over five years to reflect the reduced Soviet threat and tighter federal budgets.
Many of the major base closings to be unveiled this week by Cheney were first proposed in January 1990 as part of a package of military reductions submitted to Congress along with the Pentagon's 1991 budget blueprint.
Lawmakers balked at approving the base closings, however, citing the severe economic impact in the affected communities and complaining that a majority of the cites were in congressional districts represented by Democrats.
The reconstituted eight-member commission, headed by former New Jersey Republican Rep. James Courter, will have until July 1 to accept or modify Cheney's proposals. It will then submit its own list to President Bush and Congress.
According to an administration official and a report in the New York Times, the list of bases scheduled for closing includes California's Fort Ord, home of the Army's 7th Infantry Division; Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington state; Bergstrom Air Force Base in Texas; the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard; Myrtle Beach Air Force Base in South Carolina; the Fort McClellan Army base in Alabama; and Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana.
Among bases that Cheney will suggest reducing in scope are Fort Devens in Massachusetts and Fort Dix in New Jersey, the newspaper reported.