Retired military request public help to defend coast bases against possible closure

Retired military request public help to defend coast bases against possible closure

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A group of retired military personnel met with the Gulf Coast Business Council on Tuesday during the council's monthly meeting to discuss protection for military installations along the coast.

The Harrison County Military Team hopes to spread knowledge that could help save the installations if a Defense Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) takes place. BRAC is a commission put in place to improve military efficiency by reducing bases.

"There is always excess capacity when you start to look at the efficiencies," said retired Lt. Gen. Mike Peterson.

That excess is something that Peterson saw in his 35 years of service in the United States Air Force. He and the other members of the Harrison County Military Team believe BRAC is a good way to get rid of the excess.

"It's a very fair and open approach so that all the cards are laid on the table," said Lt. Gen. Peterson. "Every installation is asked specific questions."

For instance, if a base has the possibility of an expensive infrastructure repair in the near future, that would be a mark against it, explained Lt. Gen. Peterson.

According to the retired lieutenant general, bases on the coast have a lot going for them, including the number of jobs provided, as well as their connections to the community.

"Plus, the cost of living in South Mississippi is much lower than it would be in a New England state," explained Lt. Gen. Peterson.

He and the other members of his team all chose South Mississippi as home after retirement.

"Because of that, we have lots of information and stay in touch with the installations," said Lt. Gen. Peterson. "And so, we can do something that the active duty military can't."

What active duty military can't do is defend the bases against BRAC.

"So we feel it's our responsibility as members of the community here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast to help tell the accurate story," said Lt. Gen. Peterson.

According to Lt. Gen. Peterson, the BRAC commission doesn't currently have any official plans to close bases in the future, but if it does, he and his team want the public to keep their elected officials informed with the value our bases hold.

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