Monday, May 22, 2006

SECNAV says "BRAC has screwed us..."

OK, I'm paraphrasing here. I remember during the 90s as they were closing bases all along the California coast or turning over land (ditto on the East Coast like Cecil Field) after the BRAC that given what the 21st Century was going to bring us - it was stupid. You will never get the capacity back. You will have no room to expand if needed. I hate to say, "I told you so..." but....
And as a result of going through that process, several facilities have been closed in the Southern California area: El Toro and Tustin and other (bases). At the same time, we're in a process where we are seeing from a strategic perspective more and more need to support and provide capability in the Pacific region. And that was one of the conclusions out of the QDR, the Quadrennial Defense Review. I think basically we're kind of about as tight as we could ever imagine given both the current and projected needs.

What do you mean by tight?

In terms of capacity. We're down to a minimal capacity relative to both the operational and training needs that we have now.

The idea being looked at with Miramar is to have separate runways so that the aircraft you're talking about wouldn't be using the same runways as civilian aircraft. And separate air spaces?

Obviously not flying into the same air space. They'd both be in the same air space. I have seen no way presented that deconflicts the air space to an extent that anybody in the Navy aviation community is comfortable with.

One of the options being looked at is potentially moving the carrier landing practice away from Miramar to either a new runway that the airport authority would build at Camp Pendleton or to Yuma. Where at Camp Pendleton?

They've identified a site on the base where a single runway could be built that's not subject to flooding like the current runway is there. And so the idea is that in the middle of artillery ranges and live fire exercises at Camp Pendleton we'll be running additional aircraft.

No, that's not the idea. The idea is shared space. You've got tens of thousands of acres at Pendleton and at Miramar, and the idea is to share that space sensibly.

And I guess what I'm trying to make clear, and I'll just restate my position here. We had a lot more space. We have had a lot of that space taken away from us. We are in the middle of a war. We are using the hell out of Pendleton, out of Twentynine Palms. We've got Marines that are preparing – I was out at Pendleton, I was out at Twentynine Palms earlier this week – a group of Marines out there that are preparing in three weeks to go out into the theater (Iraq). You know something? Some of them are not going to come back.

Is that relevant to the airport debate?

I think it is.

Explain the connection.

I think the connection is that we are in a land war. We are trying to provide for the defense of the nation. And we are utilizing our facilities very extensively. And we recognize the need to be able to provide the maximum possible training experience for the people that we are putting in harm's way.

And do you think the airport authority is going to come forward with a proposal that will undermine the training and readiness of the troops?

All of the suggestions that you have made here this morning have all gone in the direction which would take significant facilities and significant flexibility away from the Navy and Marine Corps, too.

The SECNAV going around the tree a bit in the interview about the inability of the interviewer to understand the basics of military training. Then you could tell SECNAV just got tired of the whole interview. I'll give the SECNAV this; he is fiesty. Read the whole thing...but here are some of my favorite answers.
I don't know, do you?
We did not ask him to do that. Congressman Hunter is fully capable of taking his own lead in such matters.
They have outlined a number of concepts and we have evaluated those and found them to be wanting.
Yea, I like him.

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