WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published February 01, 2012, 09:47 PM

Grand Forks AFB Once Again in Jeopardy

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A local base retention leader says the future of the Grand Forks Air Force Base could be in jeopardy. After learning that cuts to the defense budget will be more drastic than expected.

By: Meagan Millage, WDAZ

GRAND FORKS (WDAZ-TV) - A local base retention leader says the future of the Grand Forks Air Force Base could be in jeopardy. After learning that cuts to the defense budget will be more drastic than expected.

Do those cuts mean the base will have to go through another round of base closure battles?

Air Force Base retention group spokesman John Marshall just ended a day and a half of meetings with top Air Force officials in Washington D.C.

He says the cuts will affect 33 states, as Congress works to trim about $480 billion from the defense budget.

"With the cuts that they're going to make across the board, I think every base in the country is going to be looking at doing whatever they have to do to keep their bases," Marshall said.

The Budget Control Act passed by Congress calls for about $480 billion in defense cuts over the next 10 years. And another $500 billion in cuts is possible because the "super committee" failed to come up with a deficit reduction plan. Marshall fears those cuts will lead to base closures.

"So we have to continue to work hard to get another mission in here and keep doing what we've been doing for the last few years," Marshall said.

Kent Conrad met with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday and says Congress has not authorized base relocations or closures for 2013 or 2015.

"There is a suggestion that we have one in 2013 and 2015. I do not see the votes in Congress for another base closure round anytime soon on domestic bases," Conrad said.

Conrad says there are numerous other ways to cut the defense budget.

"There's lots of places for there to be defense savings. After all 51 percent of all federal employees are Department of Defense, and that doesn't count contractors," Conrad said.

Marshall says he hopes officials can find value in keeping the Grand Forks Air Force Base open.

"It could handle a mission or a new mission without any problem. It's one of the most cost effective bases in the country right now," Marshall said.

The Unmanned Aerial System mission the base has right now is a valuable one and will be a plus for Grand Forks when the cutting starts.

"The greatest request from our combat commanders is for more remotely-piloted systems, and of course Grand Forks is in that business," Conrad said.

Marshall says each individual base will receive an announcement on Friday. He doesn't think it will be very specific, just an overall idea of what may happen in the future.

Tags: