WARNER ROBINS -- For all of the talk in the past year of military cuts, the 21st Century Partnership quietly has been battling a much lesser-known threat to jobs at Robins Air Force Base.
The defense industry has been lobbying for changes in the law that would make it easier for the private sector to lure away work currently being done at government installations. With cutbacks in spending on military hardware, the companies have argued they have the capacity to do the work and can do it at a lower cost.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, president of the partnership, gave members good news on that front at the groups quarterly meeting Thursday.
He said U.S. House and Senate leaders agreed Wednesday not to change the law.
Although not perfect, it goes a long way to protecting public facilities, McMahon said. At least for the time being, this problem has gone away.
He said Rick Goddard and Ron Smith, both retired major generals, have been working diligently on the issue, including making trips to Washington. Other base communities across the country also have been involved.
McMahon said the partnership has contracted with the Middle Georgia Regional Commission to perform a series of studies that will measure how the base and community might measure up in the event of a new Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
The consensus around the Department of Defense, McMahon said, is that a BRAC is coming in either 2015 and 2017, or both. The studies would look at a variety of factors both on and off base to show how Robins compares to the 12 other industrial bases in the Department of Defense.
Those factors include education, transportation, crime, cost of living and others that would be taken into account in assessing the viability of a base.
If I were to ask anyone in this room how we are doing in comparison to the other 12 industrial facilities that will be our competitors, the answer is we have no earthly idea, he said. My guess is that of the 13 facilities, theres at least three that are probably in jeopardy, so if we are in the top four or five we are in pretty good shape. But if you are in the bottom three, you ought to be a little bit concerned about what our future is.
If the studies find the area trailing in certain areas, there will be an effort to try to make improvements before a BRAC begins.
To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.