CHESAPEAKE--One of the state's leading military thinkers is convinced there will eventually be another round of base closings, or, a process that meets the same objective--reducing excess infrastructure to save taxpayers' money.
Secretary of Veterans Affairs John Harvey, a retired four-star Admiral at the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, making those remarks Thursday before the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. In the last Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round in 2005, Hampton Roads lost Fort Monroe, and, saw the 18 jet squadrons and 14,000 workers at Naval Air Station Oceana threatened. But, Harvey believes Virginia should 'embrace' BRAC. He says the state actually stands to gain. 'There is no other state that has the inherent advantages, geographic advantages, the institutional advantages, the type of work force that supports the services that Virginia does,' Harvey said. 'Virginia is perfectly postured for the future.'
In an interview with 13News Now, Harvey said he's convinced more base closings are coming, despite Congressional opposition, because the nation can't afford to maintain bases it does not need. 'Something is inevitable,' he said. 'Some type of process that in the past was called BRAC that in the future may be called something else, but some type of Congressionally-authorized process, run by the Department of Defense that looks at the infrastructure across the services and says, ok, what do we need? What do we not need? I think that at some point will occur.'
But retired Rear Admiral Fred Metz of Virginia a Beach is concerned about BRAC. He worries about the eventual retirement of F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighter jets. He's worried about the transition to the F-35 Joint Strike fighter, and that a future BRAC commission could take a hard look once again at Oceana. 'I just don't think the F-35's will ever come to Oceana,' he said.'They're too noisy, and other things. I know Cherry Point is really pushing for F-35's to go there.'
Metz also worries about the Navy's announced plans to devote 60 percent of its assets to the Pacific Fleet, leaving just 40 percent for the Atlantic Fleet. He thinks that could make Hampton Roads bases vulnerable too.