WASHINGTON. May 16. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Friday announced a sweeping plan for the closure of up to 180 military bases throughout the U.S. The purpose of the closures is to ‘create a leaner, more cost-effective force.' Mr. Rumsfeld and Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will testify about the choices made before Congress later today.
The plan has caused widespread consternation, constipation and anxiety within cities and towns that have bases on the list of proposed closures. It has also created a kind of ‘survivor guilt' amongst cities with bases that will remain unchanged.
"I cannot believe that after 5 rounds of base closures (dating from 1988-ed.) that Naval Station Quincy has not been touched," said the mayor of Quincy, Illinois, who wouldn't give his name. "I mean, Quincy is on the river, but we're a long, long ways from the Ocean. I could never understand why there is a Navy base here. Don't get me wrong: I'm glad its here. It's just always been a mystery to me."
Navy Base Quincy is located on the Mississippi river, about 70 miles north of St. Louis. For over 4 decades the facility has been used to train Engineers on the maintenance of heavy machinery and engine room equipment used in large sea-going vessels. It has always been done with textbooks, slide shows and models. "There are dozens of other training facilities on the Ocean, on both coasts, that provide the same training, but with real ships," said Naval Station Quincy Commander William "Bud" Potsmoker. "Quincy has been a great place, though. Too bad they're closing it now."
"They're not," said this reporter.
"Oh," said Potsmoker. He paused briefly. "Shit."
The news isn't so good at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The War College is where the U.S. Army's most famous warriors-most notably John J. "Blackjack" Pershing, Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton and later Norman Schwarzkopf studied history, strategy, and tactics at the beginning of their careers.
Rumsfeld singled out the War College during his announcement about base closings on Friday. "The U.S. Army War College is outdated," said the Defense Secretary. "It is of no importance in the modern age of our Armed Forces to study the history of Warfare. Generals like Blackjack Pershing or Patton would be lost on today's battlefield." He then abruptly turned and left the press conference. Myers followed after him, turning his head back to reporters as he walked away. "September 30th, gentlemen. September 30th and then I'm outta here!" he said.