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Walter Reed Medical Center to close?


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[color=darkviolet]Okay, requesting permission to b-yotch slap Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of this government. Read on please:

[quote=Yahoo News]Walter Reed Medical Center to Be Closed WASHINGTON - Siding with the Pentagon, the base-closing commission voted Thursday to shut down the Army's historic Walter Reed hospital and move about 20,000 defense workers miles away from their offices just outside the nation's capital.

The nine-member panel also started deciding which Air Force facilities should be closed or consolidated as part of the Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's nationwide restructuring of military bases.

Overall, the commission endorsed much of Rumsfeld's broader plan to streamline support services across the Army, Navy and Air Force. In many cases, it voted to merge programs scattered around military facilities across the country to centralized locations.

Just before adjourning for the day, the commissioners decided to shutter Air Force facilities in Alaska and California. But they postponed until Friday votes on the service branch's most contentious recommendations.

The Air Force wants to vastly reconfigure the Air National Guard, a move that states fiercely oppose. It also wants to close Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota and Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico.

Anticipating the high-stakes votes, the entire South Dakota congressional delegation ? Sens. John Thune, a Republican, and Tim Johnson, a Democrat, and Democratic Rep. Stephanie Herseth (news, bio, voting record) ? attended the hearing, as did Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico.

Late Thursday, the commission decided to approve its own proposal to close the Galena Airport Forward Operation Location in Alaska, which the Air Force uses for training and to land fighter jets when necessary. The Air Force had wanted to keep it open, but commissioners say other Air Force bases in Alaska suffice. The commercial airport there would continue operating.

The panel also chose to keep Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska operational, rejecting a Pentagon plan to sharply scale back personnel and aircraft there.

But commissioners did side with military planners in approving the closure of two other major bases ? Onizuka Air Force Station in California and Brooks City-Base in Texas.

As the commission tackled proposals that affected all the service branches, members focused on recommendations that sometimes were complex and interconnected.

"In this case, I'm pretty confident we got it right," commissioner Harold Gehman said, while considering a plan to consolidate some research and development activities. "But I'm telling you we're going to be faced with a bunch of these ... where I honestly do not know if we got it right or not."

Commissioner James Hill called the day's deliberations on the joint-services section agony and said the lengthy debate "highlights the complexity of these issues."

The politicians milled around the Arlington, Va., hotel ballroom where the hearings were held near the Pentagon, serving as constant reminders of their efforts to spare the bases that provide thousands of jobs in each state.

The commission signed off on many recommendations to merge education, medical, administrative and training programs, although it made adjustments in some cases. In others, the panel rejected the proposals outright. But those were in the minority. The Defense Department is trying to achieve what it calls "jointness" ? the services combining their strengths, rather than working separately ? to save money and promote efficiency.

Part of that effort was closing Walter Reed ? the crown jewel of U.S. military hospitals ? and moving much of its staff and services across town to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., which will be updated and expanded. In a nod to the Army hospital's century-old heritage, the expanded facility will be renamed Walter Reed.

Some of the old hospital's personnel and operations also will move to a community hospital at Fort Belvoir in Virginia.

The commission said care at Walter Reed, which has treated presidents and foreign leaders as well as veterans and soldiers, is considered first-rate but the facility is showing its age.

"Kids coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, all of them in harm's way, deserve to come back to 21st century medical care," said commission Chairman Anthony Principi. "It needs to be modernized."

The panel also largely sided with the Pentagon on shifting more than 20,000 military and civilian defense jobs from leased office space in northern Virginia suburbs of Washington to military bases farther away from the capital city.

Opponents had argued that such a massive job shift could create traffic nightmares. But the Pentagon said military bases will provide a more secure setting, given threats of terrorism following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. On that day, one of the hijacked airplanes slammed into the Pentagon.

The commission must send its final report to President Bush by Sept. 8. The president can accept it, reject it or send it back for revisions. Congress also will have a chance to veto the plan in its entirety but it has not taken that step in four previous rounds of base closings. If ultimately approved, the changes would occur over the next six years.

In May, the Pentagon proposed closing or consolidating a record 62 major military bases and 775 smaller installations to save $48.8 billion over 20 years, streamline the services and reposition the armed forces.


THe next thing you know they'll announce the closure of Ft. Hood because it's too big.

I'm really too tired to think up a good response but I think they're crazy to go and shift so much stuff.

Just another friendly message from Chibi Horsewoman[/color]
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[SIZE=1]I've been kind of lukewarm about this whole thing so far. Really, I don't have much passion for the issue at hand, and I don't know why these bases are being closed. To heighten the ability for our nation to defend herself, I presume?

Really, I can only say that Bush needs to get the priorities in order. Tax cuts, money we could've used to pay off this astronomical deficit, then he wages war, and later decides to close bases instead of just upping taxes. And while I don't claim to be a professional in the area of economics, I'm pretty sure that cutting taxes and entering a war isn't what is supposed to happen.[/SIZE]
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[COLOR=SeaGreen]I haven't followed this issue much either. Am I correct in my thoughts the the restructuring is due to budget and they think it will save them money? Is a time of war a time to restructure your miltary? And if so, wouldn't it be better to grow the military as opposed to cut up bases?

I'm not looking for arguements here because, as I said, I haven't followed this issue with much interest. I just don't see the manefest logic they seem to in these actions. It just doesn't seem to be be the best place to be looking to conseve money these days, you know.[/COLOR]
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