Study: Northeast, Midwest hit hard by previous base closings

Report by organization studying issues affecting the two regions argues they should be spared deep BRAC cuts this time.

The Pentagon should avoid closing military bases and cutting personnel in Northeastern and Midwestern states because those regions already have borne the brunt of previous downsizing, a new report argues.

"With increased attention to the military's role in defending the homeland and responding to terrorist threats, it is clear that the Northeast-Midwest needs a strong military presence. [The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process] must not erode the military presence now in the region," states an April 2005 report from the Northeast-Midwest Institute, a nonpartisan organization that studies issues affecting 18 states from Maine to Illinois.

The report comes as the Defense Department is putting the finishing touches on its list, due out no later than May 16, of which domestic military bases should be realigned or closed. Pentagon officials have said that as much as 25 percent of all space on military bases may be unneeded.

The nine-member nonpartisan Base Realignment and Closure Commission will begin debating closures this week and will spend the summer holding public hearings on the Pentagon's list before making final recommendations to the president on Sept. 8. If the president backs the recommendations, Congress will have 45 legislative days to accept or reject the list in its entirety.

According to the institute's report, in the BRAC rounds between 1988 and 1995, 35 of the 95 bases closed were in Northeast or Midwest States. Military personnel levels in the region fell by 41 percent, while Southern and Western states lost 21 percent of their personnel.

The Northeast and Midwest states that have lost the most military and Defense civilian personnel since 1987 are: Pennsylvania (61,420); New York (57,727); New Jersey (43,695); and Michigan (34,640). But those states lag far behind California, which has lost more than 200,000 personnel since 1987.

The 18 Northeast and Midwest states hold about 40 percent of the nation's population, but have less than 25 percent of all Defense Department personnel, the study found.