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Thursday, July 07, 2005

Team Connecticut in "high spirtis" after BRAC meeting

I'm alittle behind schedule but from what I hear, the meeting went very well with Connecticut making the case that the military greatly underestimated the savings in keeping the submarine base in Groton.

From the Hartford Courant
It was exactly the question the defenders of Groton's submarine base hoped to hear from the commissioners deciding its fate.

Would there be savings by emptying Norfolk, Va., of subs rather than Groton?
John Markowicz, chairman of the state's Subase Realignment Coalition and one of Wednesday's presenters at a regional Base Realignment and Closure Commission hearing, has spent late nights getting ready to answer such a question.

"What are your thoughts on that?" Commissioner Samuel Skinner asked the Connecticut team that had just spent two hours making its best pitch for saving the country's oldest sub base.

As Markowicz started to talk - to tell the five commissioners that Groton could harbor the entire Atlantic fleet of fast-attack nuclear subs without significant construction - Connecticut's congressional delegation, Gov. M. Jodi Rell and other state officials knew they had gotten at least some of their message through.

Markowicz told the commissioners that if they decide to pull the base from the list in the coming weeks, "you conserve, what is truly - and I'm not blowing smoke - a true submarine center of excellence."

After the presentation, "Team Connecticut," as U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, called it, was in high spirits. It had followed a script, guided by lobbyists from The Washington Group, for two hours, setting out a dozen perspectives and a host of painstakingly organized arguments that the Pentagon was in error when it recommended Groton's closure.
From the New London Day:

During a two-hour hearing at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, supporters of the base had an official opportunity to present arguments for keeping the base open instead of moving its submarines and shore infrastructure to Norfolk, Va., and Kings Bay, Ga.

“We have put so many holes into the Pentagon's case ... that it looks like a piece of Swiss cheese with more holes than cheese,” said U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn.

Following the session, the base supporters were almost ebullient over the questions posed by the commission members.

Commissioner Samuel Skinner asked whether the group had looked at the possibility of moving nine submarines from Norfolk to Groton, leaving Norfolk as a homeport for only surface ships.

Gabe Stern, an analyst for the Subase Realignment Coalition, which has spearheaded the effort to save the Groton base, said he made a model of that scenario Tuesday that showed $275 million would be saved over 20 years.

“That's a starting point,” Stern said after the hearing. “We'll forward the details to the commission's staff, and hopefully they'll pay close attention to it because of Commissioner Skinner's interest.”

I think the Connecticut delegates did their homework and definately made their case and the citizens of this state should be proud for the presentation their politicians gave to the BRAC.