WASHINGTON, D.C.—Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced today the department’s recommendations to close or realign military facilities throughout the United States. While the list is not final and awaits approval from the President and Congress, its effect on fitness facilities on these bases is not yet known. If approved the list would cut 29,000 military and civilian jobs.

The list, which was sent to the nine-member Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), also calls for the closure or realignment of 775 smaller military locations. Rumsfeld said the closings would save the U.S. military almost $50 billion over two decades.

If the recommendations are followed, Georgia's Fort McPherson, headquarters of the U.S. Army Forces Command, which directs deployment for Army personnel, would be closed, along with the Naval Station in Pascagoula, MS; Fort Monmouth in New Jersey; Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico; Fort Monroe in Virginia; and Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

Steve VanWert, public affairs officer for the Air Force, said that the list was not yet official and that if it’s approved, the actual moves probably wouldn’t be made for another two to four years.

“This is really a long-term project,” he said.

Officials said base closings and realignments are hard on the communities affected by the changes. Rumsfeld pledged to help the communities and workers that will be displaced by the process.

“The department will take great care to work with these communities, with the respect that they have earned, and the government stands ready with economic assistance,” he said in a press conference about the cuts.

BRAC Timeline:

·May 13, 2005, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld forwarded the department's recommendations to the BRAC Commission.

·The commission will then forward its report on the recommendations to the president by Sept. 8, 2005.

·The president will have until Sept. 23, 2005, to accept or reject the recommendations in their entirety.

·If accepted, Congress will have 45 legislative days to reject the recommendations in their entirety or they become binding on the department.

(Photo: U.S. Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld talk with reporters in the Pentagon, May 12, 2005, about the process by which the Base Realignment and Closure Commission has made its decisions regarding the fate of military installations across the country. The commission has the mandate to reduce excess capacity in the Department of Defense involving owned or leased properties in order to ultimately save money. Rumsfeld acknowledged it was a contentious undertaking with feelings running high in many communities, but said the decisions were necessary for the future well being of the U.S. military. Defense Dept. photo by R. D. Ward)