The Pentagon recently announced surprisingly good news for Indiana with the release of its Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendations. While the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indiana's largest military base, will lose close to 700 jobs under the proposal, it has been spared a complete closure. Gov. Mitch Daniels likened the reduction, rather than closure, to "not a bullet we just dodged at Crane - it's a mortar shell."
For the past several months, the governor and his staff have made almost weekly visits to Washington, D.C., lobbying the Pentagon for Crane's preservation.
"I'm really very pleased at the news," Daniels said after the announcement. "We made every argument we could think of to every person who mattered or might matter. We made arguments on the merits, which were in my opinion unmistakable.
"Vigilance is still required," the governor warned. "We will press for an even better outcome as the commission takes these recommendations under consideration. Four months ago, this kind of outcome could not have been anticipated and was not in prospect."
The best news to come from the BRAC announcement, however, is the addition of nearly 3,500 jobs to the Fort Harrison Defense Finance and Accounting Service Center in Lawrence. According to Daniels, these jobs will primarily come from relocating current employees in the Washington, D.C., area as a result of consolidating federal personnel services - a move Daniels recommended in 2001 while serving as the White House budget director.
Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh also had a positive reaction to the BRAC report. In a statement released last week, Bayh called the announcement "good news for Indiana."
"First and foremost, Crane will remain open, and Indiana stands to gain more than 2,000 new jobs because of additional work being moved to Fort Benjamin Harrison and other bases in the state," Bayh said.
He also credited the Daniels team and others who fought on the state's behalf. "The entire Indiana delegation worked together to make the strongest case possible for Crane and all our bases, and the new jobs coming to Indiana prove that the Pentagon recognized the value of the work performed here to support our nation's military."
The BRAC recommendations will now go before a congressional committee. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his staff will testify in support of their recommendations, while representatives of the affected military bases are expected to lobby for the preservation of their jobs and services.