Area officials find flaws in BRAC reports

CNJ Staff

The Department of Defense has released information about specific criteria used in the compilation of its Base Realignment and Closure lists.
Information, available for download on www.brac.gov, includes a system used to calculate cost of base realignment or closure information in regards to COBRA.
Committee of Fifty member Randy Harris said a team of individuals, including Hanson Scott, director of the office for military base planning and support, and Keystone International, gathered Monday at the Clovis Community College, to begin analysis.
“We have dozens of volumes with 1,000 pages each. It’s a massive amount of data,” a yet optimistic Harris said.
Analyzing the in-depth data, Harris said, is a tremendous responsibility, lengthy and complex. He did, however, point out two points of interest for the group.
Two deviations in the scoring system used to rate bases were found by the group, Harris said.
The Department of Defense did not factor in number of runways into their scoring system. Cannon Air Force Base, equipped with two runways, scored the same number as bases with only one. Harris deemed this a major Department of Defense oversight. In addition, the scoring system placed little value on encroachment, bestowing Cannon a score roughly 2 percent higher than bases with significant encroachment issues.
Harris said Cannon’s military value would skyrocket if encroachment issues were considered properly.
Cannon was one of two Air Force bases recommended for closure last month when the Pentagon released its Base Realignment and Closure list.
At least three members of the BRAC Commission are scheduled to visit Cannon June 23 and conduct a regional hearing in which state and local officials can present their case for keeping Cannon on June 24.
Harris also expressed frustration over the delayed release of the data.
“It will take a while to analyze the data. The BRAC Commission,” Harris said, “is equally frustrated about lateness of the arrival of data.”
Also on Monday, Gov. Bill Richardson met with the acting secretary and three other Air Force officials in Washington to discuss New Mexico’s efforts to keep Cannon, according to a spokesman for the governor.
“I was impressed with the fact that the data we presented to the Air Force will be forwarded to the BRAC Commission,” Richardson said after the meeting. “They made no commitments, but said they would consider our arguments.
“I believe they were sincere.”
Richardson said he believes the Pentagon shortchanged Cannon on issues such as the availability of airspace for the New Mexico Training Range Initiative, the base’s value to the nation’s military mission and the fact that there is no encroachment upon the base in Clovis.
Richardson will travel later this week to Nevada and Utah to meet with two members of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Richardson is also scheduled to meet with Commissioner James V. Hanson, a former congressman from Utah, on Friday in Salt Lake City, and James H. Bilbray, a former congressman from Nevada, on Sunday in Las Vegas.