The Pentagon has recommended closing the Hawthorne Army Ammunition Depot and reducing the Nevada Air Guard, but those recommendations are now under review by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
Today the commission's chairman was in our area touring both bases.
Commission member Philip Coyle made the same sort of whirlwind tour 2 weeks ago. It's likely Chairman Anthony Principi heard and saw much the same on his visit today.
There's a lot riding on these visits, a lot riding on the commissions final report due in early September. The Nevada Air Guard stands to lose positions and its 8 C-130 aircraft, something state officials say would severely limit the governor's ability to respond to emergencies within the state.
In Hawthorne residents frame the decision in terms of the town's very survival. The Army Ammunition Depot has been the town's economic engine for most of it's history. Closure of the base would be a severe blow. That's a message Coyle received first hand from hundreds of Hawthorne residents during his visit.
There was no such public meeting today, but Senator Harry Reid, who urged Principi to make the trip to northern Nevada, says it's important the BRAC chairman see what's a stake first hand.
"The American public has been able to rely on Hawthorne since 1930," Sen. Reid said. " We've spent millions of dollars building the finest ammunition depot in the world. When Secretary Principi sees it I think he'll agree we need to keep it. He needs to see the Air Guard. Moving those planes to New Mexico won't help our national security and it will severely affect how our National Guard functions here in the West."
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