California’s Inland Empire has a diverse collection of industries. From farming to million square feet warehouses, the region supports just about anything one can think of. One of these industries is the military. With portions of Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, March Air Reserve Base, and 29 Palms in this region, the economy of the Inland Empire depends on the military.
With the military playing such a large role in this area the upcoming defense cuts are of great concern. The military has agreed with Congress to limit their annual budget to $496 Billion. This will mean many programs will need to be cut, troop numbers will need to be decreased, and bases will need to close.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has already hinted that these cuts will include base closures. In 2017 there will likely be a round of base closures and realignments such as those in the 1988 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). During the 1988 BRAC the Inland Empire saw Norton Air Force Base closed. Many are worried March Reserve Air Base could be next.
In his recent article for the Press Enterprise, Mark Muckenfuss describes the impact these closures would have on the local economy. The Air Force estimates the closure would take approximately $400 Million out of the local economy. Bases such as Marine Corps Base 29 Palms are already seeing cuts in their force and are likely to see more.
The cuts will have a lasting affect on the Inland Empire. As a former Major in the Marine Corps I can appreciate both the need to cut the budget and to keep bases open. There is no way to avoid that our country needs to get their spending under control. There will need to be cuts in all government programs. The military will not be able to escape this.
Many people are concerned about these cuts. There are numerous people in the Inland Empire both military and civilian who stand to lose their jobs. Many service industries will suffer. The concern is real and in large part unavoidable. Politicians and local leaders will do their best to ensure Congress knows the full weight closures and downsizing will have here. There will be town hall meetings and surveys of the local economy. In the end though we have little say in what will come.