Military base closures: Is Fort Meade safe?

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MSgt Pedro Jimenez works at his editing station at Department of Defense News. Beneath BRAC are the people that hope to avoid it.  Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

In the military’s world of seemingly-endless acronyms, BRAC doesn’t really stand out, but to many it carries immense weight. That’s because military bases, and the people who work there, depend on surviving BRAC.

The Base Realignment and Closure Act was born in 1990, and has been shuttering military bases ever since. In the simplest terms, every few years, to save money, some facilities are forced to shut down and move their operations to other facilities. The last round was in 2005, and word is circulating that another one may be in the works.

Fort Meade was a winner in the 2005 BRAC decisions, and saw explosive growth as personnel from several bases were forced to move in. It meant massive construction and of course, a big boost to the local economy. Among the moves were the Defense Information Systems Agency and Cyber Command, the arrival of which, along with the presence of NSA, meant the base was now the hub of United States cyber warfare.

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Military public affairs specialists meet at Defense Media Activity. Over 10,000 troops work on Fort Meade. Photo by Glenn Slaughter.

While Fort Meade might not be at the top of chopping block list, it must remain wary. The local government understands its value to the area as do community groups. But what, if anything, can the base do to secure its future? Growth is probably the best assurance. It cost more to shut down and consolidate the last round of bases than the yearly savings it produced. The more personnel Fort Meade employs, the more expensive it will be to relocate them all and construct new offices.

Along with growth must come modernization. The most antiquated facilities will find themselves at the top of the closing list. Fort Meade’s community continues to work with the base, as all parties understand the symbiotic nature of the relationship.

From the renovation of AAFES, the Army Air Force Exchange Services shopping center, to the construction of Maryland Live!, it’s a win-win for troops and civilians when Fort Meade continues as the economic powerhouse it currently is.

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