The Navy League needs you
By By Buddy Bynum / editor
May 11, 2003
Hopefully it won't come down to this, but all of us should recognize the possibility that Naval Air Station Meridian could be on the list of military base closures in 2005.
That's the harsh reality.
The good news is that when the next round of base realignments and closures what we commonly call BRAC comes around, our community can be ready to meet the challenge.
The Department of Defense is on record as saying it has 25 percent to 30 percent excess infrastructure and wants to get rid of it. This represents a significant paring down of the U.S. military and billions of dollars in savings.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld believes the actions can be taken without damaging the military's abilities to fight wars and Congress has already bought in to the concept.
Base closures are not new. NAS Meridian has survived three rounds so far. But the concept behind the 2005 BRAC round is new and very different from the past.
In this new concept, bases that can achieve "jointness" or, perform multi-missions that cross traditional military branch lines have the best chance of staying alive.
This might mean a single base would train Navy and Air Force pilots, even though, traditionally, Navy and Air Force missions have been different. At NAS Meridian, the regional counter-drug training academy would seem to fit into this mold, as would additional missions at NAS of a homeland security nature.
Many elements will go into the ultimate decision on whether a U.S. military base will be closed. And, according to the base closure consultant working for the Mississippi Military Communities Council, one of the most positive things a community can do is show strong support for keeping its base open
So, you ask, how do you show support?
There are many ways, but one of them is to join the Meridian Area Navy League. This organization and I'll admit to a little bias because I serve on the board is committed to visibly supporting the men, women, current missions and missions to come at NAS Meridian.
The Navy League sponsors military citizen of the year awards, provides information on changes of commands and wingings, and encourages residents of our area to learn about NAS Meridian through visits to the base and participation in a number of activities.
Plus, it's an excellent way to show your own personal support for NAS Meridian.
I hope you'll consider taking a moment to join up. Membership is $40 a year and open to everyone. A membership form appears elsewhere in the paper today.
The Navy League needs you.
Several recent calls and letters have suggested that The Meridian Star is somehow responsible for the heat on the 186th Air Refueling Wing. I appreciate all of the opinions on our news coverage of the allegations and the continuing official investigations at the 186th.
Here's the way I see it:
First, the newspaper has reported and will continue to report on what we learn about racial bigotry, fraud and corruption among a certain few officers at the 186th. That is our responsibility to our readers and to the community at large.
Second, the newspaper did not create the conditions, nor did we snatch out of thin air the allegations that have been substantiated by earlier investigations by officers from the U.S. Air Force's Inspector General and Mobility Assessment Team.
Third, some members of the so-called leadership allowed the conditions to flourish at the 186th and now apparently find the newspaper a convenient target.
Fourth, no one at this newspaper has ever written or even suggested that the rank and file pilots, boom operators, mechanics and others associated with the 186th are anything other than very competent, qualified professionals who do their jobs extremely well.
I, for one, am proud that members of the 186th continue to successfully handle their assigned missions and overseas deployments with honor. They are performing a valuable public service in the defense of freedom.