BRAC Voting Underway

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The Base Realignment and Closure Commission began voting on Pentagon recommendations on which bases to close Wednesday in Washington.

"Our nation needs the BRAC process. No institution can remain successful if it does not adapt to its constantly changing environment," said BRAC chairman Anthony Principi. "Our armed forces must adapt to changing global threats, evolving technology and new strategies and structures."

Those decisions are hitting hard the communities that have bases officially recommended for closure. They include Pascagoula Naval Station in Mississippi. It was among the first of the bases to be voted on and approved for closure when the deliberations began.

It was apparently not a difficult decision for commissioners, by virtue of the 9-0 vote. One member of the commission called the closure "a no-brainer."

The base's lack of multiple missions was cited as one of the main reasons for its closure.

"Obviously, we regret the base closure commission's decision about Pascagoula, but it's no surprise," said Gov. Haley Barbour. "As we said when Pascagoula was first put on the list, all the naval vessels at Pascagoula either have been or are scheduled for decommissioning, and it's hard for the defense department to keep a naval base that doesn't have any ships."

Barbour said efforts are and have been underway to get other uses for the property.

If the commission's recommendations are approved by Congress and the president, the coast will lose some 900 jobs.

The commission dealt Wednesday primarily with Navy bases.

Of course, the decision Meridian is waiting on did not come Wednesday, but it could come Thursday. That is, whether or not the 186th Air Refueling Wing in Meridian will be realigned.

The proposed realignment could cost this area 175 full-time jobs, and see the familiar tanker jets moved to another base.

Members of Meridian's military team are in Washington monitoring the hearings and waiting on the vote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.