Lebanon County group circulating survey to protect Fort Indiantown Gap

A community group in Lebanon County has begun circulating a survey it hopes will help keep the Fort Indiantown Gap military base from closing if U.S. Congress commissions another round of possible military base cuts.

Lebanon County officials organized its Local Defense Group in 2015 with a $25,000 Department of Community and Economic Development grant it received. The group formed specifically to defend its interests in keeping Fort Indiantown Gap in Union Township open amid talk of a fresh round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) hearings.

For Indiantown Gap is Lebanon County’s largest employer with about 2,000 full-time employees working at the installation. It has an annual economic impact of about $578 million, according to base statistics.

During BRAC hearings, the Department of Defense discusses possible U.S. military base closures around the world. While there isn’t a specific target on Fort Indiantown Gap, the Local Defense Group formed proactively to promote the benefits of the base.

The survey is being distributed by Strategic Consulting Partners, the Monroe Township-based consulting firm in Cumberland County that the Lebanon County group hired to assist with its mission. The survey will be used to help the community group form a strategic plan to accentuate the base’s benefits to the community.

In March, the Department of Defense sent a report to U.S. Congress asking lawmakers to commission a new round of BRAC hearings. The last BRAC process was 12 years ago, according to the report, and in that time the four branches of the military have reduced its workforce and inventory.

That has left the department with excess spending at its current bases, according to the report, and a round of BRAC would save the department approximately $2 billion per year.

“In light of the current budget and global security environment … (the department) cannot afford to continue to carry excess infrastructure,” the report states.

There also is a Cumberland York Area Local Defense Group to defend against its three major military facilities. Carlisle Barracks in North Middleton Township and Naval Support Activity in Hampden Township are both in Cumberland County, and the Defense Distribution Center Susquehanna in Fairview Township in York County. Together, those three facilities generate more than $800 million in local economic impact, according to statistics from the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp.

Michael Sadowski

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