Two years ago Congress signed off on the Base Realignment and Closure Commission's plan to close or consolidate 49 major military bases and 765 smaller installations. The Defense Department has until Sept. 15, 2011, to complete the process. The commission projected the plan would save $48.8 billion over 20 years.
When the Pentagon's plan was announced in May 2005, legislators expressed concern over job losses, but that is now a closed issue.
"It's like we used to say when I was growing up on the farm -- this particular horse got out of the barn and now it's gone," said Lloyd Smith, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson's chief of staff.
According to the commission's plan, the Pentagon efforts are for reserves to serve more efficiently from fewer locations in the post-9-11 era.
The Cape Girardeau center, 2530 Maria Louise Lane, has about 100 part-time reservists who drill one weekend a month, along with seven full-time active-duty employees, according to the center's commanding officer, Lt. Isaac Armstrong. The reservists will have to drill at other units in places such as St. Louis or Memphis, Tenn., or else be discharged.
Armstrong said no civilian jobs will be lost at the center in Cape Girardeau. His previous duty station in Portsmouth, N.H., was also placed on the proposed closure list, and 4,000 civilian jobs would have been lost had it closed.
"That got reversed," said Armstrong, attempting to put the Cape Girardeau center closure in perspective. "In that case, it was affecting the livelihood of the community."
The reservists who live close to the Southeast Missouri base will be inconvenienced at worst, he said.
According to Chief Petty Officer David Hensley at the Cape Girardeau center, about 40 of the reservists live more than 50 miles away from the center.
"I'm sure that a couple people may decide to get out of the Reserves," Hensley said. "They're not being forced out because of this."
Armstrong said he doesn't know what will be done with the building. The property was leased from the city, but the Navy owns the building. The building will be turned over to the Naval Installations Command, which will decide what to do with it.
335-6611, extension 137