Speeches

Washington D.C.-Today Senator John McCain gave the following speech on the floor of the United States Senate:

We have already fought a battle together to keep a strong Army presence at Fort Huachuca. We won that battle through a strong community effort to keep the Information Systems Command at the Fort, with support from the Arizona delegation. The end result seems full of promise: An expanding Army Intelligence Center and a strong Information Systems Command.

This success is why I have strongly encouraged community leaders in the Sierra Vista and Huachuca City area to come together and create a formal group that will show the Army that Fort Huachuca has the full support of the civilian community around it. It will show that the Army can count on community, state, and delegation support in dealing with problems like encroachment, the environment, military construction and dual use facilities.

We already know that organizations like the Fort Huachuca support group can have a powerful impact. A similar organization in Tucson, called the Davis-Monthan 50, played a critical role in convincing the Air Force that the community would support the base, prevent encroachment, and work with the Air Force as a team.

The past two years I have arranged for meetings between the leaders of the Davis-Monthan 50 and top Pentagon officials in Washington. This year, the Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff both joined us for a luncheon to discuss how Davis-Monthan can continue to contribute to the mission of the Air Force. I am eager for the opportunity to introduce the Fort Huachuca 50 to key officials like the Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff. Last week, the Army Chief of Staff assured me of his desire to meet with Fort Huachuca's support group as soon as such a meeting can be arranged.

The group in Tucson certainly helped keep Davis-Monthan open during the last round of base closings and has laid the ground work for keeping it open in the future. We also know that the tireless effort of many in Sierra Vista and Huachuca City played a critical role in helping ISC make its case for staying in Arizona.

The Fort Huachuca support group will bring together the same community leaders who did so much to force the Department of Defense and the Base Realignment and Closing Commission to reexamine moving ISC to Fort Devens. It will give needed visibility to community spirit and support for Fort Huachuca.

This organization will also be able to work with state officials, and the working group on Defense Conversion that I have organized with the new University Consortium. Together we can build on the immense technical resources at Fort Huachuca to create partnerships between the Army, private industry, and our universities and research organizations.

Today, Fort Huachuca is the national headquarters of both the U.S. Army Information Systems Command and the location of the Army Intelligence Center and School. The post has 5,956 military personnel and 10,641 dependents. The Army employs 3,962 civilians at the post and hosts 1,561 contract personnel. The Fort has an economic impact on Arizona that brings $382 million annually into the state.

The last thing on earth we can afford, however, is to become complacent about Fort Huachuca's future. Real defense spending has already dropped for six straight years, and President Bush plans on four percent annual real cuts through 1997. We have so far fought off further major cuts, but some members of Congress have called for cuts that involve percentages two to three times higher than those of the President.

In terms of the Army, the Base Force approved by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell, has already cut the active strength of the Army by 90,000 men and women, and 250,000 more will have to be cut in the future. It has eliminated 46,000 defense civilian jobs and will cut over 100.,000 more. Forty bases have been closed in the U.S., and 96 bases overseas, and many more will follow. The number of Army laboratories is being cut from 42 to 25.

We face at least two more rounds of base closings and realignments. We only have to look back to the totally unexpected decision the first Base Realignment and Closing Commission made in 1989 -- to move the Information Systems Command from Fort Huachuca to Fort Devens -- to realize how little warning we can get of change. Decisions about future cuts will depend, in part, on the Army's perception of a community's support for its facilities and the willingness of a state delegation to support that base.

Finally, a Fort Huachuca support group can serve the broader goal of helping our men and women in uniform and defense civilians who enjoy living in Arizona and in the communities around Fort Huachuca. It can ensure that there is a shared sense of belonging, and that we work together to keep our nation strong and capable of meeting the new challenges of the post-Cold War era. We must be concerned about jobs, about economic development, and about community impacts. We also, however, must never forget the main mission of Fort Huachuca and of all the men and women who work there: defending freedom.