Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection

 

Minutes of the<MeetNo1> 1st Meeting

of the 2005 Interim

 

<MeetMDY1> June 2, 2005

 

The<MeetNo2> 1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection was held on<Day> Thursday,<MeetMDY2> June 2, 2005, at<MeetTime> 1:00 PM, in<Room> Room 149 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Mike Weaver, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.

 

Present were:

 

Members:<Members> Senator Elizabeth Tori, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Weaver, Co-Chair; Senators Carroll Gibson, Denise Harper Angel, Vernie McGaha, Daniel Mongiardo, Joey Pendleton, J Dorsey Ridley, Richard "Dick" Roeding, Dan Seum, Katie Stine, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Bill Farmer, Mary Harper, Gerry Lynn, Fred Nesler, Tom Riner, Charles L Siler, and Ancel Smith.

 

Guests: Carlos Pugh, Howard H. Howells, James Chambers, J. Larry Fields, John Peck, Martin Jacoby, Mike Vowels, Bobbie Smith, Joe Wilkins, Donna Brown, Ken Schwendeman, and Gerard Gerhard.

 

LRC Staff: Scott Varland, Clint Newman, Clay Barkley, and Wanda Riley.

 

The meeting began with the Pledge of Allegiance.

 

Co-Chair Mike Weaver summarized a Committee Resolution honoring Specialist Eric L. Toth from Glasgow, Kentucky who had recently died in Iraq. Senator Pendleton moved adoption of the Resolution, and Senator Stine seconded the Motion which was adopted by voice vote. Co-Chair Weaver summarized a Committee Resolution honoring Sergeant James A. Sherill from Ekron, Kentucky who had recently died in Iraq. Senator Roeding moved adoption of the Motion, and Ridley seconded the Motion which was adopted by voice vote. Co-Chair Weaver summarized a Committee Resolution honoring Marine Sergeant David N. Wimberg from Louisville, Kentucky who had recently died in Iraq. Senator Harper-Angel moved adoption of the Motion, and Senator Pendleton seconded the Motion which was adopted by voice vote.

 

The Committee next turned its attention to Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) developments.

 

BG (Ret.) Jim Shane, Executive Director, Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs, was joined at the witness table by Mr. Barry Rhoads, Chief Executive Officer, the Rhoads Group, and Mr. Bill Harvey, President, Public Private Solutions Group, Inc.

 

General Shane spoke first. He began by praising everyone who had contributed to Kentucky's BRAC effort. He was especially pleased with the Committee's participation in securing $250,000 to fund the development of a BRAC strategy.

 

He went on to provide an overview of the Secretary of Defense's BRAC Recommendations that were published May 16, 2005. (A copy of General Shane's PowerPoint presentation may be found in the Committee's meeting folder stored in the LRC Library.)

 

General Shane described the mission of the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs as to preserve and expand national defense and military activities in Kentucky. The Commission's Charter is found at KRS 154.12-203. The Commission has the following responsibilities.

 

1.      Advise Kentucky political leaders and others on military issues.

2.      Maintain military and state relationships.

3.      Improve the military value of Kentucky's military installations. He thanked the Committee for supporting legislation that has enhanced the value of these installations.

4.      Coordinate Kentucky's BRAC efforts.

5.      Recommend federal, state, and local economic development projects with military components.

6.      Make recommendations to the Kentucky Economic Development partnership concerning military facilities as an economic tool.

7.      Develop strategies to encourage military personnel to remain in Kentucky.

 

Kentucky has achieved two significant milestones. First, since 2001, Kentucky has seen a 250% increase in military contract spending--the largest gain of any state in the nation. Second, the Secretary of Defense's BRAC Recommendations have a significant positive economic impact in Kentucky. Military salaries increase by $254 million. More than 2,000 civilian jobs are added. Lastly, there will be an additional $100 million spent on military construction. There may be an even greater economic benefit from the BRAC Recommendations.

 

General Shane complimented Kentucky's BRAC team consisting of the Office of the Governor, the Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs, Kentucky's Congressional delegation, the BRAC consulting firms (the Rhoads Group and Public Private Solutions Group, Inc.), and the Committee.

 

He said that the BRAC process is ongoing. The Secretary of Defense's recommendations are now in the hands of the BRAC Commission. The Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs will attend a BRAC Commission Regional Hearing some time in July. The BRAC Commission will provide its recommendations to the President by September 8, 2005. The President has until September 25, 2005, to approve or disapprove the recommendations. If the President disapproves the recommendations, the BRAC Commission has until October 20 to revise the recommendations. Then by November 7, the President must approve or disapprove the recommendations.

 

General Shane said that contrary to news stories, Kentucky will have a personnel gain of 2,600 under the Secretary of Defense's BRAC recommendations. States that have lost military or civilian personnel will fight during the next stage of the process to curb those losses. Kentucky must try to preserve its gains.

 

The Secretary of Defense has recommended the closure of many military installations, none of which are located in Kentucky. However, Fort Knox and Fort Campbell will be realigned. The good news concerning these forts and the Blue Grass Army Depot is that the US Army has given them high military value. Out of 97 US Army installations, Fort Knox is ranked 12th, Fort Campbell 14th, and the Blue Grass Army Depot 45th. Ten years ago they were not ranked so highly. Many individuals, including members of the Committee, contributed to improving the rankings.

 

The Secretary of Defense had six strategies in coming up with his recommendations to transform the Army. Transforming the Army will change the missions of each military installation in Kentucky.

 

Under the Secretary of Defense's recommendations, Fort Campbell has lost an Attack Aviation Battalion (434 personnel). General Shane noted that the loss took place pre BRAC. Fort Campbell will gain a Brigade Combat Team (3,272 personnel). The Blue Grass Army Depot has gained two Army Reserve Units. BRAC has significantly changed Fort Knox. Fort Knox will benefit from BRAC but will no longer be the home of the Armor Center and School. Armor students make up 75% of departing personnel. Fort Knox does get a Light Infantry Brigade (3,272 personnel). The Consolidated Human Resources Command is moving to Fort Knox (2,794 personnel). This Command should bring some high paying jobs.

 

General Shane deferred to Adjutant General Donald Storm with regard to discussing the impact of BRAC on the Kentucky Army National Guard. He said that under BRAC the Kentucky Air National Guard unit in Louisville will gain 4 C-130 aircraft. There will then be 12 aircraft in the unit. He went on to say that BRAC closes three Reserve Centers: the Naval Reserve Center in Lexington, the Army Reserve Center in Maysville, and the Louisville Army Reserve Center. The Lexington and Maysville facilities will be moved to the Blue Grass Army Depot and placed in a federally funded joint armory for the National Guard and Reserve. The Louisville facility will be moved to Fort Knox. The Paducah Reserve unit, including a medical unit, may be consolidated in a joint National Guard and Reserve joint readiness center in Paducah. This center may be located on airport land. This center would also be federally funded. As noted earlier, the Maysville Reserve Center will be closed. However, the National Guard leases a building in Maysville. If members of the Maysville Reserve want to join the National Guard in Maysville, they will be able to do so.

 

General Shane said that BRAC also requires the loss of the Lexington Defense Finance and Accounting Service Center (45 jobs) and the Louisville Naval Surface Warfare Center (223 jobs). General Shane said that he would look more closely at the loss of the 223 jobs at the Naval Surface Warfare Center.

 

General Shane provided the Committee with his BRAC strategy going forward.

        Review and assess the Secretary of Defense's BRAC recommendations and their impact on Kentucky.

        Discuss the recommendations with the BRAC Commission.

        Evaluate options.

        Defend favorable Defense Secretary recommendations.

        Develop alternatives for unfavorable recommendations.

        Pursue additional opportunities both near-term and far-term.

        Prepare for the Army's execution of BRAC.

        Seek funding from the Office of Economic Adjustment to assist local communities impacted by BRAC.

 

General Shane summarized his presentation. He said that the Commonwealth had made a relatively small investment in BRAC for a large return. The BRAC process is not over. The entire BRAC team will have to continue to develop a BRAC strategy.

 

Co-Chair Weaver said that there was no Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs when Kentucky lost the 194th Armor Brigade in the 1990's. The need for such a Commission was obvious. Don Williams played a significant role in helping push through legislation to create the Commission. Mr. Williams said that the Commission's success was largely based on the hiring of General Shane as the Executive Director of the Commission and the hiring of the two Washington consultants: the Rhoads Group and the Public Private Solutions Group. Co-Chair Weaver said that Don Williams had been the Chief of Staff at Fort Knox when the 194th Armor Brigade was lost. At that time, Don saw the need for the Commission. General Shane was in charge of Army BRAC in 1995 and knew the ins and outs of BRAC. General Shane and the consultants worked hard to get a Brigade team for Fort Knox.

 

Representative Farmer asked General Shane about the residency of soldiers coming to Kentucky. General Shane said that each soldier decides which state to choose as a residence. Kentucky should create incentives to encourage soldiers to pick Kentucky as their residence. General Shane said that a majority of the new soldiers in Kentucky will deploy, leaving their families behind in Kentucky. At the same time, the Army is working to improve its handling of deployments to ease the hardships faced by soldiers and their families. Representative Farmer said that Fort Knox has been a training facility in recent years. Students did not bring their families to Fort Knox. Therefore, Fort Knox had few military families. Now Fort Knox will have a light infantry brigade that will be deployed. Will Fort Knox will be able to create the programs and facilities necessary to take care of families left behind during a deployment? General Shane said that Colonel Keith Armstrong from Fort Knox had the answer to the question. Colonel Armstrong said that there will be no problem in taking care of the families. There is housing at Fort Knox. Furthermore, the Residential Communities Initiative is a housing privatization effort that will begin in November of this year. Over the next ten years, every family house at Fort Knox will be reconstructed or renovated. In terms of quality of life, Fort Knox has all the amenities of a city. If a unit deploys, there will be no difficulty supporting the families that stay behind at Fort Knox.

 

Senator Pendleton said that spending $250,000 on the BRAC process was a great investment. Senator Pendleton thanked John Peck from Hopkinsville for his support of Fort Campbell. He said that local communities need to help the families of deployed soldiers. The Commonwealth should do what it can to encourage Fort Campbell soldiers and their families to live in Kentucky. Senator Pendleton said that there is no guarantee that Kentucky will maintain its gains during the remainder of the BRAC process. Therefore, everyone needs to continue to defend Kentucky's gains until the process concludes.

 

Senator Seum said that the General Assembly has done more and more to assist the military and veterans. First there was the House Committee. Then he asked Senate leadership to create a Senate Committee. This led to the formation of the Interim Joint Committee on Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection, with himself as a Co-Chair. There are several past and current members of Senate leadership on the Committee. Senator Seum then asked about the loss of 223 jobs at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Louisville. He asked if the 223 jobs had been set to be fazed out following the 1995 BRAC. General Shane said that once the Louisville Naval Ordnance Station in Louisville was closed in 1995 and the jobs were privatized, the privatized jobs became vulnerable. The 223 jobs have been moved to the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. General Shane said that on June 3 he and Barry Rhoads will meet with Congresswoman Northup and Louisville Mayor Abramson to discuss options. Bill Harvey, with Public Private Solutions, will supply technical information for use in making the argument that the 223 jobs should remain in Kentucky. Sen. Seum said that Ron Wolf from Louisville Metro government was in the audience. General Julius Berthold, with the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs, said that part of the Naval Ordnance station was privatized during the last BRAC. That mission will stay in place after the current BRAC. The other part was an antiaircraft system. That mission to build and maintain antiaircraft missiles will also stay in Louisville. The engineering staff constitutes the 223 jobs that have been moved to the Picatinny Arsenal. The engineers are civilian employees of the government. Mike Vowels, Deputy Director of the Naval Surface Warfare Center, said that the 223 government engineers are slated to realign. The other jobs at the Naval Surface Warfare Center will stay there as privatized jobs.

 

Co-Chair Weaver asked Adjutant General Storm about the four C-130 aircraft that will join the Kentucky Air National Guard in Louisville. Co-Chair Weaver wanted to know why according to the handout there would be a gain of only one job along with the four additional C-130 aircraft. General Storm said that when four C-130 aircraft were lost a few years ago the personnel who had worked on the aircraft stayed on at the Air National Guard in Louisville. That is why only one more person will be added along with the four aircraft. Co-Chair Weaver said that by getting back the four C-130 aircraft the Air National Guard will have a full wing in Kentucky. Adjutant General Storm said that in the future more personnel will be added as a result of the additional C-130 aircraft. General Shane said that Bill Harvey will provide technical support to the Adjutant General with regard to the impact of the C-130's. Mr. Harvey said that the Air Force had trouble across the country deciding how many personnel will be shifted along with aircraft.

 

Co-Chair Weaver asked General Shane to discuss the Consolidated Human Resources Command that will come to Fort Knox. General Shane said that three commands make up the Consolidated Human Resources Command that will bring 619 soldiers and 2,175 civilians to Fort Knox. Many of the jobs will be high paying. Co-Chair Weaver said that many of the individuals with high paying jobs will not live on base at Fort Knox but will live in the surrounding community. General Shane said that the community will have to look at providing services for these individuals. Co-Chair Weaver said that the surrounding community should play up its strengths when communicating with individuals moving there from Washington, DC or St. Louis. General Shane said that Senator McConnell and Congressman Lewis will play up the quality of life in Kentucky.

 

Co-Chair Weaver commented that the President approves or disapproves of the BRAC recommendations no later than November 7, 2005. However, the Kentucky BRAC consultants are funded only through October. Co-Chair Weaver said that the Kentucky BRAC consultants should be kept on past October to assist with BRAC related issues that will persist after November 7. General Shane agreed. He said that following November 7 the BRAC recommendations will be implemented. The contracts of the Kentucky BRAC consultants should be extended, so that they can assist with the implementation to make it as favorable to Kentucky as possible. Co-Chair Weaver said that between now and November the Committee may have to seek additional funds to keep the consultants. General Shane has a staff of three, including himself. He needs help from the two consultants to do his job. Innovative funding may be necessary to keep the consultants.

 

Co-Chair Weaver said that BRAC Timeline is set by law. General Shane agreed.

 

General Shane said that he would like to come back before the Committee to discuss what programs the Commonwealth should institute to assist the BRAC process and the cost of those programs. He will make a recommendation on how to support local communities.

 

Senator Tori reminded the Committee members that until the President signs off on the BRAC recommendations in November, those recommendations may be changed. Therefore, everyone involved with BRAC should continue to protect Kentucky's BRAC interests. She proposed retaining the consultants to help with the implementation of the BRAC recommendations. Senator Tori said that Colonel Armstrong from Fort Knox would be able to answer questions about how BRAC will impact Fort Knox. Fort Knox will change, and private citizens living near Fort Knox should embrace that change.

 

Adjutant General Storm discussed how the Kentucky Army National Guard is fighting in Iraq alongside members of the regular active duty Army. Today, there are 1,156 members of the Kentucky Army National Guard fighting, not just supporting, in Iraq. When members of the Kentucky National Guard train at Fort Knox or Fort Campbell, they need the most up to date facilities, including housing. Members of the Guard need better housing when they train. The United States Air Force did not consult with the Adjutant Generals during the BRAC process. This has led to problems. If the National Guard is going to be ready to fight in a war, then the National Guard needs adequate facilities to train at federal military installations.

 

Co-Chair Weaver said that the three Committee Resolutions adopted at the beginning of the meeting for Kentucky soldiers who recently died in battle were for one member of the Reserve and two members of the National Guard. Members of the Reserve and National Guard are fighting and dying in Iraq. They deserve the best training at home before they go to war.

 

Senator Roeding asked Adjutant General Storm how much support is there for a family of a National Guard member called to active duty? Adjutant General Storm said that there are 54 Family Readiness Groups in Kentucky. They do not have a great deal of money. A family member can call 24/7 to receive assistance. This is a complex situation, because family members do not live on a post. They are scattered throughout Kentucky. He devotes time to this complex situation every day. Since September 11, 2001, well over 50% of the Kentucky Army and Air National Guard have deployed. This rate of deployment creates a great responsibility for the Guard. Senator Roeding said that of all the States, Kentucky has the highest rate of deployment.

 

Major General Bill Barron said that there has always been a problem finding adequate housing for members of the National Guard and Reserve who train two days a week. This problem needs to be fixed by the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army. The commanders at Fort Knox and Fort Campbell lack the authority to fix the problem. If the housing were built, it would be occupied seven days a week by members of the Reserve Component. If the BRAC recommendations become law, change will be necessary at the state, regional, and local level to accommodate the recommendations.

 

Senator Mongiardo asked Adjutant General Storm if he had the resources necessary to train the Guard for the Iraq War. Adjutant General Storm said that he needs for the Guard to train with the same equipment that will be used to fight in Iraq. The members of the regular Army and the Reserve Component need to be trained and equipped in the same manner. That is the Army's plan, and the Army needs to follow through with the plan. At present, members of the Kentucky National Guard in Iraq have what they need to stay safe.

 

Co-Chair Weaver pointed out that on the Agenda under Old Business the Committee Jurisdiction is provided as well as 2005 legislation enacted within Committee jurisdiction. With regard to New Business, the Committee will meet July 7 at the Lexington Homeless Veteran Transition Facility.

 

Senator Roeding motioned to adjourn. Representative Nesler seconded the motion. The motion passed by voice vote.