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How Wisconsin Stacks Up on the BRAC List


The worst news in Wisconsin goes to Milwaukee, with the recommended closure of the Air Reserve Station at Mitchell Airport.

It houses the 440th Airlift Wing. If closed, it could ultimately cost the state 552 military and civilian jobs.

But in the grand scheme of the BRAC list, that isn't that bad.

"For Wisconsin, it's a tough day; there are some good news and some really tough news," says former Assistant Secretary of Defense John Rogers.

The toughest news, the recommendation to close the 440th Airlift Wing: a unit with 357 on active duty, 200 of those serving in Iraq.

Governor Jim Doyle says he hopes to convince the federal government that the 440th is necessary to ensure America's safety.

"I do really believe that the 440th has extreme value to the defense of the United States and that's what we have to make..." he says, "It can't just be, 'Oh, we want to have the jobs and somebody else shouldn't have them.' We really have to demonstrate how important this is to the defense of the United States."

Historically the BRAC Commission changes about 15% of the Department of Defense recommendations.

So there is still hope for the 440th.

"It's a real possibility but not a large possibility," says Rogers.

But looking at the big picture, Wisconsin fared better than many other states.

Connecticut's New London Submarine Base is slated to close. That's a loss of 8,000 jobs.

In Maine, the Portsmouth Naval Yard, with a more than 200 year history, is on the cut list.

And South Dakota's second biggest employer, Ellsworth Air Force Base, is also on the chopping block.

The purpose of the closures: to save money.

The question is whether the country's safety will suffer.

"We've got a real problem in this country on the stand point of personnel and recruitment. And so I think that's one of the reasons they really pared back this closure list," says Rogers, "I think a couple of years ago, before Iraq and Afghanistan, this was going to be a much larger list."

If kept as is, the BRAC list would save the government about $50 billion over 20 years.

Wisconsin is one of 28 states that stands to lose if the recommendations pass.


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