I'm not sure I entirely buy my friend Phil Carter's argument against the latest round of base closures -- that it will widen "today's civil-military divide." Isn't the Pentagon's first goal is to protect civilians, not play nice with them? And wouldn't that job be better handled from fewer, more integrated bases, with less overlap?But, either way, it sure was interesting to see General Wesley Clark make almost the same case, a day after Captain Carter presented his.Here's Phil...

This closure will change the relationship between the U.S. military and the society from which it's drawn. Many of these reserve centers, armories, and defense offices play an important role in their communities' livesreserve armories frequently serve as local meeting halls and polling places, and reserve units often engage in community service projects, for example. When these bases go away, so too will the presence of the military in the lives of the people who reside and work near them. Initially, reservists may drive hours to drill with units at the new consolidated armory locations, but eventually these reservists will move nearer the big bases or quit the reserves. Either way, communities that today contribute reservists to the military will no longer do so.
And here's Wes, via the AP...
Retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark said Saturday that the Pentagon's plan to close military bases around the country and reorganize troops will isolate the military from the American people and the rest of the world.Clark said the plan to pull U.S. forces back home from abroad and centralize bases takes jobs away from smaller towns."We're losing influence abroad when we bring those troops home, and we lose the interaction with America when we create these super bases," Clark said.
Maybe. But the greater danger, it seems to me, is to homeland defense. As Phil writes, the Pentagon's plans to shut down more than 200 national guard armories "may undermine homeland security efforts, which rely in part on the geographic dispersion and availability of reserve units to respond to domestic emergencies. Local governments depend on reserve centers for use as staging areas and temporary shelters in their emergency plans."THERE'S MORE: Robin Burk has a smart look at the Army's rationale for consolidation.
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