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Opinion: Politicizing Naval Base Location Puts National Security at Risk

Friday, March 02, 2012 - 03:00 PM

The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise returns from a six-month deployment February 29, 2004 at the Norfolk Naval Station in Norfolk, Virginia. (Getty)

Bipartisanship is not necessarily a good thing. This is especially true when a deal struck by the two major parties involves both of them getting some of what they want, and really selling the American people down the river to get there.

This has been the case with several pieces of major legislation over the last few years, and is illustrated yet again with the blockage of a plan to move an aircraft carrier's home base from Virginia to Florida.

If you only listened to the Virginia delegation, you'd think this was some sinister plan by the Florida delegation to steal jobs. FactCheck.org might say this is 'half true', given that the Florida delegation has been touting the move as a job creator, and it would apparently shift around 11,000 jobs, and $650 million in economic activity. But the real motivating factor here is something much bigger, and it shows how little our 'representatives' in Washington often care about our country.

Ultimately, this isn't about one state's politicians stealing jobs away from another's. It's about national security. The Navy wants to spread out the home bases of our Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups, not because of some warm fuzzy logic, but because they want to disburse them to make them less vulnerable to terrorist attack and natural disasters like hurricanes.

But just like how Democrats wont allow substantive cuts to entitlement programs, or Republicans won't allow substantive tax reform that would raise revenue, these lawmakers only see their own narrow priorities, rather than taking the security of our country at large into consideration.

The Navy Times reports that only a few ships, and a few thousand in personnel, will be moving in the next few years:

[Virginia] Sen. Mark R. Warner on Monday said the Navy will keep the carriers in Norfolk through 2020, but there will be some "modest shifts" in people and ships at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in Virginia Beach. Overall, the Navy plans to keep 111,000 Navy and Marine Corps personnel in Hampton Roads during that time, which is only 3,000 less than the current level, Warner said in a statement.

...

Florida Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll added that officials are disappointed about the carrier move being delayed, but applauded the Navy's plans to move nine ships to Mayport, along with 2,000 sailors and their family members.

Staying out of the fray, the Navy has said they still plan on moving the aircraft carrier, continuing to cite security concerns.

There always has to be a balance struck between realistic budgeting and the needs of the military. Obviously we could have a military several times larger, with every soldier carrying a million dollars worth of the most cutting-edge gear that can be found, but we can't afford everything. This is basic common sense.

The aircraft carriers on the West Coast are spread out between three bases, while all five nuclear powered carriers on the East Coast are based in Norfolk. This is a security bottleneck we should not allow to continue. If a rogue hurricane made it that far north and laid waste to the docks, or an explosives-laden ship were to somehow sabotage them, it would be a stratgic disaster for the Atlantic fleet.

How the Virginia delegation can justify their selfishness, in the face of this knowledge, is beyond me. This is one of the worst examples of politicization of what should be a non-political issue that I can remember seeing in a while. They really should be ashamed of themselves.

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