- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The leader of the last round of base closures and realignments warned that differences in the mission of federal officials this time around could put Naval Support Facility Indian Head at greater risk of closure.
The Wednesday meeting of the South Potomac Civilian-Military Community Relations Council, held at the Jaycees center in Waldorf, featured former Base Realignment and Closure Commission chairman Anthony Principi as its keynote speaker.
While the previous round of BRAC focused primarily on the transformation of the military at the time, Principi feels that the next round almost certainly will focus on cost reduction for the Department of Defense, so bases should work to conserve costs and resources where possible.
In 2005, Principi helped lead the committee that was charged with examining ways to reduce infrastructure costs for the Department of Defense, and emphasized during his speech that no base is safe from closure or realignment simply because it dodged the bullet in previous rounds, especially in light of the nation’s current economic situation and projected defense budget cuts.
Currently, Principi said, BRAC is looking to conduct cuts in either 2013 or 2015, although he considers 2015 more probable because of the time needed to prepare a list of bases for review.
Principi also noted that consideration of future BRAC activities does not necessarily mean they will occur, because it is a “very controversial issue,” and one that requires a considerable amount of planning.
“Bases should be prepared to demonstrate first and foremost the value of their installations,” Principi said.
He also urged the bases not to consider themselves safe from closure because of investments made toward projects on base.
Principi described NSF Indian Head as a “center of excellence” for energetics, and noted that the base does hold significant value for the military because of the unique nature of the work done there.
Currently, NSF Indian Head employs more than 3,000 people, many of whom are Charles County residents. Their work with energetics includes mixing and distributing torpedo fuel, controlled- and propellant-actuated devices for ejectable seats in military aircraft, and M27A7 warheads, among other projects.
Products developed in the labs at NSF Indian Head are not used solely by the Navy; all branches of the military use the products.
Charles County commissioners’ president Candice Quinn Kelly (D), who also serves as a member of COMREL, said she was not surprised to hear of potential upcoming BRAC cuts, but emphasized that this round is far different from the last.
“We’ve had information from a variety of sources indicating that BRAC cuts could be a possibility once again,” Kelly said. “The economic climate after this last war makes this a bit different than last time, though. We hope to consult with a variety of different experts to learn how to protect Indian Head from being affected by these closures.”
Kelly stressed NSF Indian Head’s importance.
“Closing Indian Head would be a debilitating loss for the county’s economy,” Kelly said. “They employ a lot of Charles County residents and do a lot of important work. We have U.S. Rep. [Steny H.] Hoyer [and Sens. Benjamin L.] Cardin and [Barbara A.] Mikulski in our corner giving us assistance as well.”
All in all, Principi said, base closures should not prove to be the end of the world. “There is life after BRAC,” he said.
The council also:ŸHeard a report on upgrades to energy infrastructure at NSF Indian Head and its projected impact. Constellation Energy, under a Navy contract, will build a 30-megawatt natural gas plant, data center and office space on 50 acres of underused land at the Indian Head base.
ŸHeard about completed, current and future military constructions to be conducted on base.
ŸHeard a community preview of Solid Curtain/Citadel Shield security preparedness exercise for all Navy installations in March. Base access will be reduced, and traffic will increase considerably as a part of the increased security measures the exercise entails.