A Pentagon commission voted to close the facility in Fort Monmouth, N.J., which develops a range of communications, electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance gear.

George Leopold, Contributor

August 24, 2005

2 Min Read

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon's base-closure commission voted Wednesday (Aug. 24) to close Fort Monmouth, N.J., the home of the Army's Communications and Electronics Command (Cecom).

The Base Closure and Realignment Commission voted to close Fort Monmouth and several other Army facilities during the first day of deliberations here. If approved by Congress and the president, the closure would would result in the loss of more than 5,000 jobs. About 2,000 Cecom jobs would then be shifted to the Army's Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.

Cecom develops a range of communications, electronic warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance gear for the Army and other U.S. ground forces. Critics of the decision to close Fort Monmouth said Cecom was currently leading an effort to detect and disarm roadside bombs in Iraq.

The nine-member commission voted 7 to 1 to close Fort Monmouth, with one abstention. Commission member Philip Coyle, the Pentagon's top weapons tester in the 1990s, opposed the closing. He said Cecom's technical expertise would be dispersed, and that the center was providing support to the military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It has also played a homeland security role, assisting police and firefighters after the Sept. 11 attacks, Coyle said before the vote.

Backers of the decision to close Fort Monmouth and other Army facilities said the consolidation would generate the greatest single savings for the Army. The Defense Department estimates that its base-closing plan would save $50 billion over 20 years, an estimate that has been challanged by the Government Accountability Office.

"Any disruption of the Fort’s support for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will carry grave consequences for our men and women in the field, and will disrupt important programs that are currently under development," said Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., who's district includes Fort Monmouth.

The panel, which includes retired military officers, former lawmakers and former cabinet members, has until Sept. 8 to submit its changes to President Bush. The president along with Congress has until Nov. 7 to reject or accept the entire package.

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