New York City’s only active military post could be shuttered in an upcoming round of base closures, which are expected to follow severe cuts to military spending.
Brooklyn Eagle is reporting that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s proposals to reduce military spending to pre-World War II levels may be accompanied by base closures. Fort Hamilton has been on the list before, most recently in 2005, but survived after vocal opposition from local leaders and the business community.
Advocates argue that it’s a vital post when major tragedies hit New York City, serving as the headquarters for recovery and response efforts:
“We’re going to have to start gearing up again to make our best argument for keeping it open,” Bill Guarinello, chairman of the Fort Hamilton Citizens Action Committee, told the Brooklyn Eagle.
… “Personally, I think they’d be crazy to close it, especially with everything the fort did during and after Hurricane Sandy”, Guarinello said. “It was the staging area for the recovery effort for the whole region. You couldn’t do it in South Jersey because it was devastated. We had all of the generals coming in and out of here. We will have to bring that to everyone’s attention.”
The fort was designated as a Base Support Installation to facilitate Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. The base provided soldiers and civilians responding to the disaster with staging areas, food and housing and logistical support.
The fort also played an important role following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, according to advocates, who said the base was a staging area for National Guard troops.
More than 50,000 active, reserve and retired military personnel and their families rely on the base for services. The Army Corps of Engineers’ North Atlantic Division is headquartered there, although indicated in 2011 that it would prefer to relocate to Manhattan – a proposal that at the time was seen as a death knell for the base.
No closure list has been drawn up yet, and the Department of Defense has nixed previous requests from the Defense Secretary to form a Base Realignment and Closure Commission, the first step to base closures.