Closing miltary bases

July 03, 1991|By The New York Times

A FEDERAL commission's recommendations for shutting 25 more military bases have caused understandable anguish in the communities that will lose thousands of jobs and millions in income. But closing bases is as necessary as it is painful. The commission did its unpleasant work with intelligence, compassion and admirable independence.

It is no mystery why Congress ducked this chore. Thousands of jobs are at stake. Small towns and big cities long dependent on huge bases like Fort Devens in Massachusetts, Long Beach Naval Station in California and the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard will have to build a new economic base. Families will have to

build new lives. But there's time. The closings will come gradually, over several years, and the Pentagon stands ready to help with the adjustment.

Some members with targeted bases will try to scuttle the whole procedure. There were unsuccessful attempts to kill the first round of closings in 1989, and there are already signs of scheming against the new list; for example, defenders of the Philadelphia yard are pushing appropriations for ship repairs to keep it going.

The overriding consideration is, and should be, wasted taxpayer dollars. It sounds cruel to yank the props out from communities whose livelihood depends on the military's presence, but continuing to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into installations that are now obsolete is inexcusable.

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