Tech-heavy Fort Monmouth slated to close after BRAC vote

'For now, Fort Monmouth remains open. We continue to support the warfighter, and we continue to innovate and develop technologies to respond to warfighter needs.'
' Col. Ricki L. Sullivan, Fort Monmouth's Garrison Commander

Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld proposed a plan to close 33 major bases and realign 29 others.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted last week to shut down the Army base in Fort Monmouth, N.J., which is home to many of the technical program offices that are leading Armywide transformation.

Fort Monmouth's Communications Electronics Life Cycle Management Command; headquarters and elements of Program Executive Offices for Command, Control and Communications-Tactical and PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensor; and the Joint Network Management System Program Office, are among the IT offices slated to relocate to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., or Fort Meade, Md.

During a press conference, Col. Ricki L. Sullivan, Fort Monmouth's garrison commander, said he was disappointed with the outcome of the vote.

But he stressed that the decision by the nine-member commission did not reflect a lack of appreciation for the work performed by personnel but was based on transforming the Defense Department 'into a more effective organization and to best serve our national defense, our warfighters and our taxpayers.'

'For now, Fort Monmouth remains open. We continue to support the warfighter, and we continue to innovate and develop technologies to respond to warfighter needs,' Sullivan said.

Although seven commission members voted in favor of closing Fort Monmouth, they stipulated that the closing should not affect the programs that are supporting warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If Congress and President Bush approve the commission's vote next month, more than 5,500 military, civilian and contractor jobs will move, mostly to Maryland and Virginia, although some divisions would relocate to Columbus, Ohio, and the U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School would move to West Point, N.Y.

Bush has until Sept. 23 to accept or reject the recommendations. If accepted, Congress has 45 legislative days to reject the proposals or they become binding, according to the BRAC Web site.

The commission has been reviewing and voted on a plan proposed by Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld to close 33 major bases nationwide, while realigning 29 others.

Under the BRAC, DOD expects to save $48.8 billion over 20 years by losing or consolidating more than 29,000 civilian and military positions.

The report, released in May, suggested that this year's BRAC would consolidate operations and enhance the department's move to transform.

'Through this consolidation, the department will increase efficiency of research, development, acquisition, and test and evaluation operations resulting in a multifunctional center of excellence in the rapidly changing technology area of [command, control, communications, computers surveillance and reconnaissance],' the report said.

In addition to Fort Monmouth, the commission also voted last week to close several Army bases in Virginia, Georgia and Michigan and hundreds of Army Reserve and National Guard installations across the country. The Army's Training and Doctrine Command, headquartered in Fort Monroe, Va., was one of the bases selected for closure.

Still, Rumsfeld defended the BRAC process and called the recommendations fair at a Pentagon press conference on Aug. 23.

'I feel that we made very solid recommendations. I suspect that the commission, when all is said and done, will endorse the overwhelming majority of those recommendations. Whether they make some changes is up to them,' Rumsfeld said.
The four previous BRAC rounds were in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995. n

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