Mississippi Gets BRAC Visits

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Lt. Lisa Ferguson, a Keesler Air Force Base spokeswoman, says retired Admiral Harold W. Gehman, Jr., will visit the base. He is also expected to visit Naval Station Pascagoula.

The bases were targeted for realignment or restructuring in the next round of BRAC.

Ferguson said Gehman will be briefed about operations of the 81st Medical Group at Keesler. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld recommended restructuring the unit, causing a decrease of 181 military, 31 civilian and 190 contractor positions.

Keesler officials have said the Pentagon justifies the changes to its medical unit by relying on civilian facilities with accredited inpatient capacity that are located within 40 miles of the base.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Clark Griffith, former commander at Keesler, says the recommended changes to Keesler's medical unit could be dramatic.

Gehman is also scheduled to visit Naval Station Pascagoula, which was targeted for closure.

The Navy base could lose 844 military personnel, 112 civilian workers and seven contractors, if the plan is approved.

The Pentagon's plan recommends closing down 150 military installations nationwide, including 33 major bases.

The Pentagon's recommendations go to the BRAC commission, which will hold public hearings before presenting its own recommendations to President Bush by Sept. 8. Congress will ultimately approve the final list.

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