- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2003

NORFOLK (AP) — A former representative and a former undersecretary of the Army will lead a commission charged with protecting Virginia’s military installations during the next round of base closings in 2005.

Yesterday, Gov. Mark Warner named former U.S. Rep. Owen Pickett and former Undersecretary of the Army Joe Reeder co-chairmen of a commission that will have 25 members.

Mr. Warner said he asked Mr. Pickett and Mr. Reeder to work with Virginia’s congressional delegation, local officials and community leaders during the Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, process.

“As we approach yet another round of federal base closings, we must make sure decision-makers fully understand the contributions and vital and unique roles of our military installations, including our industrial facilities and our leased office space,” Mr. Warner said in a statement.

Mr. Warner officially announced the establishment of the commission at a news conference on the Norfolk waterfront, then took a tour of the Norfolk Naval Station, the world’s largest naval base. He plans similar tours at other military installations.

Virginia’s other defense assets include the Pentagon, the Marine Corps base at Quantico, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Dahlgren, the Army’s Fort Eustis in Newport News, Langley Air Force Base in Hampton and Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach.

More than $25 billion of Virginia’s annual economy and 200,000 jobs can be attributed to defense spending, Mr. Warner said. The Department of Defense is Virginia’s top employer, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

Virginia fared well during previous rounds of base closings since the late 1980s, benefiting from consolidation.

Mr. Warner said he believes that this time around, Virginia, being so close to the nation’s capital, should be the site for additional military missions and commands.

Mr. Pickett, a Democrat, served in the House of Representatives from Virginia’s 2nd District from 1987 through 2001 and was a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Mr. Reeder was undersecretary of the Army from 1993 to 1997. He also served on the five-member Department of Defense BRAC Council and was chairman of the board of the Panama Canal Commission for four years. He returned to private law practice in 1997 and is the mid-Atlantic managing shareholder of the law firm of Greenberg Traurig.

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