Officials continually work to keep military bases open

The Director of the South Carolina Military Base Task Force briefed Governor Sanford Thursday concerning the encroachment issues around the state’s military facilities.The Task Force consists of local officials from communities and from bases located around South Carolina. They came together in Columbia Thursday, as they do once a year, to discuss protecting local bases from closure.
Formerly the Base Realignment and Closure Task Force  (BRAC), South Carolina Military Base Task Force is considered a leader in the nation for its innovative partnerships between the Department of Defense, local communities and private entities, like the Congaree Land Trust.
Retired General George Patrick says the state needs control over the buffer zones around its military bases, to protect the future of the bases, sense buffer zones are a major consideration when Congress makes a decision every decade about which bases to close or combine. Residential development close to bases may not be good, depending on the base. Environmental conservation zones are good, as well as military-friendly industrial development, which won’t be bothered by some noise, say from aircraft.
South Carolina Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom chairs the task force.  He says controlling the areas around bases has many purposes.  “As development occurs up to a base’s fence line, it limits a base’s possible expansion and its mission.  But controlling near-base development protects the state economy.  And it protects against too much clear cutting, and too much replacing forest lands with parking lots.” 
Patrick is proud of encroachment-control projects like the Midlands Area Joint Installment Consortium, or “MAJIC” for short.  “MAJIC is a joint focus group between Ft. Jackson, Shaw, McIntyre, Poinsette Range, all the conservation interests in the Congaree and Wateree areas, Department of Natural Resources and business communities.”
Patrick will give a presentation on such programs next week in Phoenix, Arizona at the annual Conference of Military Readiness held by the Department of Defense.
The retired general says they want the right kind of development in the right places, and military-related industries are very good prospects.   “With the men and women in uniform and their dependents, we have a labor pool already trained in that area of industry.” 
And Patrick says a military base-military industry marriage pleases the Department of Defense.  “Having a military industry located with a base strengthens the value of that base.  And we gain advocates in the civilian population who help us convince the Department of Defense that that base has too much value to consider closing.”

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