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Geuss we didn't need Daschle's "clout"

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Cal

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http://www.rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2005/07/20/news/local/news03.txt

Grand Forks Air Force Base stays off BRAC closure list
By Celeste Calvitto, Journal Staff; and The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, or BRAC, voted Tuesday not to add Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota to the Pentagon's list of base closings, an indication that the base will likely stay open.

Grand Forks escaped the fate of eight other bases that were added to the closure list.

Ellsworth Air Force Base, which is recommended to be closed, was frequently mentioned during the hearing, which advocates for Ellsworth took as a positive sign from the BRAC commission.

"It's interesting that a considerable amount of discussion referred to Ellsworth," Pat McElgunn, director of the Ellsworth Task Force, said after the hearing. He took note of a question from BRAC chairman Anthony Principi during a discussion with Gen. Michael Moseley, Air Force vice chief of staff, about whether a reversal of the DOD recommendation for Ellsworth would have an effect on the plan for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAV, mission for Grand Forks.

Moseley said there would not be any link between the two, and McElgunn said the scrutiny could help Ellsworth.

"I guess you could call it a keen sense of awareness that they have been looking at the Ellsworth situation and have given it some consideration," McElgunn said. "But how that relates to the eventual decision, we don't know."

The Department of Defense recommended that the Grand Forks base stay open but lose its air tanker mission and most of its personnel. Tuesday's vote was about whether to close instead of realign the base. DOD documents show that Grand Forks was originally on the closing list, but on May 4, the recommendation was changed to realignment.

The BRAC commission is charged with reviewing the DOD recommendations.

Six of the nine commissioners voted against adding the Grand Forks base to the list for closing. Seven votes were required to put it on the list.

Commissioner Admiral Harold Gehman Jr., a retired Navy admiral, argued for adding Grand Forks to the list so the commission could further compare it to Ellsworth.

"It seems to me the only way we can compare is by treating both bases the same," he said. Gehman voted to add the base to the list for closing, as did Sue Ellen Turner, a retired Air Force brigadier general, and former U.S. Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah.

South Dakota's congressional delegation attended the hearing.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said in a conference call with reporters that he is "not reading too much into it (the Grand Forks vote). I wasn't going to read a lot into it if they had added it."

But he also took note of questions from BRAC commissioners, particularly one from Samuel Skinner during the Monday BRAC hearing concerning security issues associated with consolidating the nation's B-1B Lancer bombers at one location. The DOD recommendation is to move Ellsworth's 29 B-1s to Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.

"It was a well-informed question. … These commissioners are looking at this independently," Thune said. "It's a long process, and the odds are against us in terms of getting off the list. But we are doing all we can."

Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., said that the future of Ellsworth does not depend on Grand Forks' status, and he reiterated the B-1 consolidation concerns.

"I continue to make the case that it is not in our national security interests to station all the B-1 bombers at a single base. The commission decision on Grand Forks does not change that fact," he said. "I was pleased to see that the commission again recognized and discussed the value of Ellsworth at today's hearing. I will continue to actively monitor the BRAC proceedings with the rest of South Dakota's Congressional delegation."

Rep. Stephanie Herseth, D-S.D., said that the testimony "highlighted the military value of Ellsworth Air Force Base."

"While nothing was decided today that definitively affects Ellsworth's future, it is obvious that the base is on the minds of the commissioners as they continue to evaluate the Pentagon's recommendations," she said.

She also noted that Ellsworth's military value and the "potential to accept new missions" was acknowledged at the hearing.

Before the vote, for the sake of the debate, BRAC staff members presented a detailed argument in favor of closing Grand Forks. The commission staff said Ellsworth has comparable military value scores for a UAV mission and a higher military value score for an air-tanker mission. They also noted that Ellsworth has a similar strategic location to Grand Forks.

But they said those evaluations were made as if there are not any current missions for either base; in other words, "as if they were stripped of aircraft." This is because it is "difficult to mesh three missions" — bombers, tankers and UAVs, a BRAC staff member said.

In August, the BRAC commission will determine whether bases slated to be closed should be removed from the list, which is the next step the congressional delegation and the Ellsworth Task Force are working toward. A final list of recommendations will be developed in the fall. The list then goes to the White House and Congress for approval.
 

Liberty Belle

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I guess we didn't need ol' Puff Daschle to save Ellsworth!! He's trying real hard to downplay the way he was ripping into Thune and emphasizing his own political importance. Check out this story:http://rapidcityjournal.com/articles/2005/08/27/news/local/news04.txt

SDP has a good article on this subject:
http://southdakotapolitics.blogs.com/south_dakota_politics/2005/week34/index.html#a0006153290

And this is the most hilarious photograph I've seen in years. Sibby's caption is on the mark!!: http://sibbyonline.blogs.com/
 

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