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Senator James Beach addresses his new colleagues in the Legislature.

TRENTON — A Senate resolution sponsored by Senators James Beach and Donald Norcross calling on the U.S. Congress to exclude Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and Picatinny Arsenal in Morris County when considering future defense department budget cuts cleared the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee today.

“Any reduction in the personnel or operations of the Joint Base could have a catastrophic effect on the communities and businesses that depend on it for their survival,” said Beach (D-Camden, Burlington), chairman of the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “The Joint Base is the state’s second-largest employer, with more than 44,000 employees, and it contributes approximately $6.9 billion into the region.  The base also indirectly supports another 65,000 jobs at stores, businesses and restaurants in the surrounding area.”

“The Joint Base has already felt the brunt of budget cuts, including hiring freezes, vacant positions and units being deactivated,” said Norcross (D-Camden, Gloucester) “The Joint Base continues to have a vital role in this country’s armed forces and the region’s economy, and we need to find ways to help bolster the base. It is too important to the state and the region to undergo more cuts.”

The Department of Defense announced recently that it will propose reductions in the size of the U.S. Armed Forces to pre-World War II levels, and in the bases that support military operations. Although it is too early to say what effect reductions will have on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, some have expressed concern that the base’s fleet of 32 KC-10 refueling planes may be forced to retire. The KC-10 fleet carries cargo and people in addition to conducting fueling missions.

The last round of base closures came in 2005, resulting in the merger of the separate installations of Fort Dix, McGuire Air Force Base and Naval Air Station Lakehurst into the military’s first tri-service mega base.

The resolution, SR-65, was approved by a vote of 5-0.


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