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MacDill looking ahead after first round of BRAC

by 1st Lt. Erin Dorrance
6th Air Mobility Wing public affairs

Round one of the base realignment and closure recommendations are over and no longer sweating closing, MacDill officials instead are looking ahead to making room for four more tankers.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced the military bases the Department of Defense recommend for the base realignment and closure May 13. MacDill Air Force Base was not on the BRAC list and was recommended to gain planes and personnel.

"I am thrilled that MacDill Air Force Base will remain open," said Col. Margaret Woodward, 6th Air Mobility Wing commander. "In the short three months I have been in command here, I have been awed by the outstanding troops and civilians that make up Team MacDill. This is a special base and is supported by an outstanding community. I look forward to continuing our outstanding partnership."

The BRAC list recommended MacDill receive 4 KC-135R aircraft from Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., in fiscal year 2009. This addition to MacDill's current inventory will increase its overall operational effectiveness across the KC-135 fleet.

MacDill also was recommended to receive members from the 927th Air Refueling Wing staff, expeditionary combat support and mission support squadron manpower from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., in fiscal year 2009 to support a new association with the 927th Air Refueling Wing. The new association will capture reserve experience in the Tampa region and enhance the base's unit capability with experienced tanker manpower.

Michael Cooley, chief of plans with the 6th Civil Engineer Squadron, said the task now is to plan for making room for new planes and people.

The 6th Operations Group is already limited on space, said Mr. Cooley. Fitting in more planes, the additional maintenance equipment and people to serve them and other needed expansions must be addressed, he added.

But no one is complaining. The alternative for MacDill could have been shutting down rather than bedding down for the additions, said Mr. Cooley. He said there is plenty of time to make the changes and funding is virtually assured as a cost DoD expects to pay when making BRAC recommendations.

While MacDill’s future appears to be set, the DoD recommendations announced are only the start to a long process. By Sept. 8, the BRAC Commission will send its recommendations to President George W. Bush. By Sept. 23, President Bush will approve or disapprove the Commission's recommendations. The Commission resubmits recommendations by Oct. 20 if they are initially rejected by the president. President Bush submits final recommendations to Congress Nov. 7. Once these recommendations have been submitted, the plan becomes final within 45 legislative days, unless Congress passes a joint resolution to block the entire package.

To view the entire list of military installations recommended for closure and realignment, log onto http://www.defenselink.mil/brac/.

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