NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Beale AFB Update

Fred Levien wants to Protect America by saving Beale, March 22, 2005

Fred makes a strong case for keeping Beale AFB open, based on two weapons systems located on the base, the Global Hawk and Pave Paws.

A recent article in The Union ("Rumsfeld says downsizing would save $7B annually," Feb. 21) points out that "lawmakers want to make sure they are spending resources wisely" and with extra military base capacity at nearly 25 percent, all domestic bases are under consideration for closure. It also states this is especially true if there are "aging facilities" or if the base is "used by only one of the four Services."

Beale actually fits both of these defined limitations. But, that is only half of the story. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., highlights another crucial side of this story. He suggests the U.S. needs those bases "that are on the very edge of what we [the USA] need to defend ourselves." Applying that criteria, Beale jumps to the top of the "essential" list.
I would like to add another perspective to Fred’s analysis. The PAVE PAWS was developed to identify sea launched ballistic missiles in the 1970s, with four sites located around the nation, Otis AFB, MA; Robins AFB, GA; Eldorado, TX; and Beale AFB, CA. Otis AFB was closed and is now Otis AF Station, just the radar site. The Robins AFB site was closed when the soviet sub launched threat was reduced, the subs rotting in port. The Texas site was moved to Clear Alaska, upgraded and became part of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. PAVE PAWS is 1970s technology, that became operation in the 1980s. I am not sure it’s cost can be justified since North Korea does not have any nuclear ballistic missile launching subs. The land based ballistic missile threat from N. Korean is being handled by sites in Alaska.

Lockheed Marti, the Global Hawk developer, was given a contract to develop a Global Hawk ground station for Largely AFB, VA. Virgina is Sen. John Warner’s home state. I believe Sen. Warner, a Republican, has far more clout that Sen. Boxer or Sen. Feinstein, Democrats. One of Rumsfeld's goals is to move critical assets closer to potential battle zones. Beale AFB is a long way from the Middle East. Global Hawk is a mobile asset, and PAVE PAWS is old technology. I hope they stay at Beale AFB, but I am not as optomistic as Fred.

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