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Base closure criteria remain the same for NAS Whidbey

The Department of Defense has submitted its final selection criteria to be used for the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round, and it is unchanged from the criteria used in previous BRAC rounds.

Rep. Rick Larsen, who serves on the Armed Forces Committee, had asked that quality of life be included as a factor in the Pentagon’s base closure decision, and while it was not added as a specific criteria, Larsen was satisfied with the final document.

“I am pleased that the DOD agrees that, while military value must be considered first and foremost in this process, we owe it to our women and men in the military and their families to recognize the importance of quality of life in base communities,” he said.

In the public comment period many people expressed a desire to have quality of life included in the decision.

The Department of Defense noted this sentiment in the analysis of the public comments.

“The Department agrees that the quality of life provided to its military personnel and their families significantly contributes to the Department’s ability to recruit and retain quality personnel.”

The analysis goes on to say that military personnel are better able to perform their missions when they don’t have to worry about their families back home.

“Quality of life is captured throughout the criteria, particularly criterion seven,” the analysis read.

The criteria are divided into two categories, “military value” and “other considerations.”

Criterion seven falls into the latter category, citing “the ability of the existing and potential receiving communities’ infrastructure to support forces, missions and personnel.”

The four military value criteria are:

1. The current and future mission capabilities and the impact on operational readiness of the Department of Defense’s total force, including the impact on joint warfighting, training and readiness.

2. The availability and condition of land, facilities and associated airspace (including training areas suitable for maneuver by ground, naval, or air forces throughout a diversity of climate and terrain areas and staging areas for the use of the Armed Forces in homeland defense missions) at both existing and potential receiving locations.

3. The ability to accommodate contingency, mobilization and future total force requirements at both existing and potential receiving locations to support operations and training.

4. The cost of operations and the manpower implications.

Other considerations listed are:

5. The extent and timing of potential costs and savings, including the number of years, beginning with the date of completion of the closure or realignment, for the savings to exceed costs.

6. The economic impact on existing communities in the vicinity of military installations.

7. The ability of both the existing and potential receiving communities’ infrastructure to support forces, missions and personnel.

8. The environmental impact, including the impact of costs related to potential environmental restoration, waste management, and the environmental compliance activities.

Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, is a member of the state Joint Committee for Veteran and Military Affairs, which toured the state last year assessing military bases and hearing from the communities.

Bailey felt that Whidbey Island Naval Air Station is in a good position to withstand base closure for several reasons.

“I feel as long as military value is at or near the top of the list we will fare very well at NAS Whidbey,” she said.

She also felt Whidbey would fare well on the quality of life issue.

“Quality of life is what brings our military people back over and over again,” she said. NAS Whidbey is a popular base for reassignments, and many sailors return to Oak Harbor to retire.

“I know it’s going to be a very stressful time over the next few months, but I feel optimistic about the future of Whidbey,” Bailey said.

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