The military is credited with bringing $18.1 billion annually to North Carolina's economy. The state devoted considerable effort and dollars to fight against facility closures. (AP/Gerry Broome)
Across the nation this week, people on military bases and in their surrounding communities waited for the axe to fall. The Pentagon says it has five to 10 percent more space than is needed. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld argues that closing and consolidating bases can save nearly $49 billion over the next 20 years -- money which can be better spent as part of his plan to build a leaner, quicker, more flexible military force. But in communities around the nation, military bases are seen as sources of jobs and money and economic security -- and the possibility of losing them makes people anxious. Joining the panel to discuss the reasons for these suggested changes and the possible impact on local communities is John Fund, who writes for OpinionJournal.com.
"What does the list released by the Pentagon tell us about the strategy of the U.S. military as it tries to adapt to the new threats in the world?"
"Very simply it says the Cold War is over and the War on Terror has begun. The base closing list shows the shift in where we think the threat is -- more away from Europe and more toward Asia and the Middle East. It also says something about a concept that the military likes to call 'jointness,' that refers to the coordination of the different services in fighting the wars of the future."
"This is such an enormously complex process. We can no longer think about fighting wars 20 years out. We have got to be thinking about the war we are going to be fighting next year."
"I don't think there's any reason why, having released this list, Donald Rumsfeld shouldn't have his feet held to the fire by a very public process that puts all of these issues on the table -- our strategic needs, our internal needs, and indeed the needs of these local economies -- and debates it."