Potomac News Online | J. Warner: Some base closings likely in Va.

RICHMOND, Va. – The next round of military base shutdowns is likely to affect some Virginia installations, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Monday.

With 25 armed forces bases in Virginia, not counting the Pentagon, the commonwealth ranks third nationally in the number of bases, including the world’s largest U.S. Navy base in Norfolk.

“I can’t say it’s inevitable, but the numbers of bases certainly raises the chances,” Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va., said after he and other members of the state’s congressional delegation met with Gov. Mark R. Warner.

The senator said he wouldn’t guess about which bases might be most vulnerable.

Major installations such as Norfolk don’t figure to be at risk as the military streamlines and modernizes its operations. But other outposts that don’t conform to the needs of a new, rapid-deployment and technology-based military could be closed or consolidated with nearby installations, the senator said.

The Defense Department, in assessing which sites to close this year, will ask “is this installation situated and equipped to continue to serve the cutting edge of a modern military,” John Warner said.

Warner and Sen. George Allen and U.S. Reps. Robert Goodlatte, Thelma Drake and Robert C. Scott, the lone Democrat, met with Warner for about three hours at the Executive Mansion to discuss state-federal issues.

Other topic covered Medicaid, federal aid to transportation and President Bush’s oft-criticized No Child Left Behind initiative for public schools.

Aware that Virginia’s numerous bases would be tempting targets to the Pentagon in this latest round of base-closures, state and local governments have provided incentives designed to appeal to military communities.

Virginia law allows for in-state tuition to state-supported colleges and universities for children or spouses of military personnel stationed in Virginia. The state budget for the next year provides for $2 million to pay for the program through June 2006.

In addition, local base commanders have been given greater input into zoning decisions that affect the quality of life near military bases.

“I asked the congressional delegation if there were anything more the state should be doing,” the governor said after emerging from the meeting. “They were very complimentary of the state’s efforts.”

The senator and the governor are not related.

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