Letter to the editor

On June 8, the Asbury Park Press published an editorial that should capture the attention of people all across New Jersey. In it, they cited the call by President Obama for another round of military base closures by a new version of what can only be called the infamous Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC). This is the highly political process by which the decision was made in 2005 to close Fort Monmouth and move its operations to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.

The consequences of this decision are painfully easy to document. The loss of jobs, the disruption of lives and careers, the cost to both the local governments in taxes and economic activity and the federal government in dollars that far exceeded the imagined budgetary savings are all well known. The impacts are still being felt today and as someone who has been intimately involved with the process from the beginning- now as the Monmouth County Freeholder representative on FMERA- I can only echo the concerns being raised.

This should not be mistaken for a rational deliberative process based on military needs or fiscal prudence. While it is undoubtedly true that from time to time certain facilities and programs become obsolete or redundant and can be eliminated or moved for perfectly sound reasons, there is at least as great a likelihood that a program of the highest value will be seen as an economic asset and political prize to be hijacked from one state and transported to another for purely self-interested political reasons. We cannot let this happen again.

To defend ourselves we must start by bringing our full congressional delegation together, assuring ourselves of their awareness and support and arming them with the best technical and strategic information available to refute any suggestion that the military facilities located in New Jersey should or could be closed or moved to another state. We must look to assemble a strategic counterweight to challenge and refute any proposals that are made. We must draw on retired military and economic experts to form this bulwark and launch a pro-active preemptive initiative to support our facilities. If we don’t, and we wait until one or more are selected for closure, we will have waited too late.

Freeholder Lillian G. Burry

June 29, 2015