U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran said he's ready to work with anyone who will work to keep Mississippi's military bases. However, he said the military understands the worth of the state's facilities.
Cochran talked Thursday with the staff of The Associated Press in Jackson. He said the state's hiring of a new base closure consultant will have no impact on the congressional delegation's work to retain military facilities.
Cochran says Mississippi is fortunate that most of the bases have been here a long time and have established records.
Cochran says Mississippi's bases have modern facilities and have been rated by the military commanders as some of the best in the country. He says as long as that support continues, Mississippi's bases should survive any new base closure proceedings.
The new round of base closure discussions is expected to begin in 2005. All Mississippi defense facilities survived previous rounds of base closings in 1991, 1993 and 1995.
There are nine bases in Mississippi, including three pilot training facilities at Meridian, Columbus and Biloxi. The bases employ over 35,000 people with a payroll of over $1 billion.