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 today.
“The Joint Base still plays an important role in the U.S. Armed Forces and is a major economic driver, and any reduction in operations would have a devastating effect on the surrounding communities that rely on it for their survival. It is the state’s second-largest employer, with more than 44,000 employees, and it contributes approximately $6.9 billion into the region. We should be looking at ways to expand operations, not reduce them,” said Beach (D-Camden, Burlington), chairman of the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee.
“The Joint Base has already felt the painful brunt of budget cuts. As the military considers another round of cuts, it’s important to note that the base indirectly supports 65,000 jobs at stores, businesses and restaurants in the surrounding area,” said Norcross (D-Camden, Gloucester) “The Joint Base plays a critical role in defending this nation and contributes heavily to the region’s economy, and we must protect it from upcoming cuts and preserve it for generations to come.”
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 FortDix, 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 voice vote.