Missouri’s Senators talk about whether some of America’s military bases should be closed or moved as U.S. House and Senate committees look at Military Defense Base Closure and Realignment (BRAC).
Missouri’s Senators say they’re not in favor of any closures, but that scaling back on military costs to save money is a good idea. Senator McCaskill says she thinks most of that scaling back wouldn’t even be stateside.
“We will be taking a closer look particularly at our European deployment and how large that is and whether or not there’s cost savings to tale part of our deplyment in Europe and relocate it back to the United States,” she says.
Senator Blunt, McCaskill’s Republican counterpart, agrees with her that when it comes to cutting spending, the military shouldn’t be exempt.
He points to equipment as a possible cost savings measure, saying we need to be sure that we’re defending the country in the right way, with the right-sized military with the right skills. However, while making sure they have the “best support and equipment they can use,” but not equipment they might not use.
Blunt says a good example is landing craft. “The last opposed beach landing that U.S. forces were involved in I think was Inchon (Korea) in 1951,” he says. “So let’s be sure we’re spending our defense funds wisely and that if we have bases that no longer make sense in today’s defense posturing that we make those decisions.”
McCaskill says the plan doesn’t save the originally estimated $35 billion they had hoped for, but it does cut $10 billion to $20 billion, which is a good start.
Both Senators say Missouri’s main military installations — Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base — are not at risk since they’re both vital to America’s defense structure.
Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, who represents West Central Missouri where those two installations are located, has written a letter to House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee Chairman Randy Forbes regarding base closures.
“I believe the best BRAC decision to make involves one which ensures that we are not in a position to have these discussions in the first place,” Hartzler’s letter reads. “With all the emerging threats in the world, now is not the time to talk about base closings. We need a stronger defense posture, not one that is weakened by base closings.”
The 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman AFB is one of only two Air Force units operating the B-2 stealth bomber, which means the Whiteman unit is capable of launching combat sorties directly from Missouri to any spot on the globe.