Military Base Commission Meets

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FORT INDIANTOWN GAP -- State leaders met in Lebanon County to talk about ways to protect thousands of military jobs in the commonwealth. It's all part of a commission established by Governor Tom Corbett.

Members of the newly-formed Pennsylvania Military Base Protection Commission met Tuesday at Fort Indiantown Gap.

The group, led by Pennsylvania's lieutenant governor says it plans to work hard to defend the defense work done at the Tobyhanna Army Depot and other military facilities in the state.

As leaders at the Department of Defense continue to propose military base realignment and closures, better known as BRAC, leaders here in Pennsylvania are now meeting to defend the military jobs here in the commonwealth.

"We want to be prepared in the event that there is another round of base closures through the BRAC process," said Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley (R) Pennsylvania.

A newly-formed group called the Pennsylvania Military Base Protection Commission met at Fort Indiantown Gap in Lebanon County. Commission members are learning about the $40 billion impact the defense industry has here and the 200,000 jobs the military installations here support.

"We have an obligation to, number one, know the story to tell about the value, the efficiency, the productivity of the performance of that workforce both military and civilian," said Senator John Blake,(D)22nd District.

The Tobyhanna Army Depot is one of the 12 installations across the state being researched by the commission. The group says the depot has a $3.8 billion annual impact on the economy in the Pocono region.

But the depot has seen furloughs and cuts in the past.

"I don't want to use these words too strongly but I think in some ways it's kind of an insult to this workforce that has been so extraordinary in getting such efficient performance for the dollars that they've been provided," said Senator Blake.

Geisinger official and retired Air Force veteran John Wierchinski is on the commission to represent the interests of the depot and its employees and maybe even bring more work to Tobyhanna.

"I think the fight here will definitely help them out. The support has been incredible from the employees to the administration, the commander, the vice commander and the regional general."

The commission plans to continue to meet to hopefully avoid BRAC here in Pennsylvania as much as possible.

"If you are not proactive and if you are not prepared to tell your story, that that can result in a negative impact," said Lt. Gov. Cawley.

Officials on the Pennsylvania Military Base Commission say they'll continue to learn more about the 12 military installations in the state to advocate on their behalf if and when the defense budget cuts begin.

The next BRAC cuts could begin as early as 2015.