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Governor Marshals Forces To Fend Off Local Military Base Cuts

With major defense cuts pending, Gov. Jerry Brown created a military council to save bases such as the Los Alamitos joint forces and Seal Beach naval weapons station from cuts.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced today the creation of a state military council aimed at protecting the installations such as the Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base, the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station and 27 other bases around California and the defense-related jobs that come with them.

"California plays a crucial role in our nation's defense, and military bases and activities are vital to our state's economy," Brown said. "As federal priorities shift to cyber security and new military technology, this council will work to expand defense-industry jobs and investment in California."

The governor said the council will work to protect California's military installations and operations amid ongoing Department of Defense budget cuts, and take advantage of changes in federal military strategy to position the state to continue innovation and leadership in its military mission.

Some local elected officials and defense industry leaders have lobbied hard against the automatic spending cuts to defense that were part of sequestration, citing potential job losses and economic damage. Some of them expressed concerns that a round of base closings could be ahead.

Sen. Steve Knight, R-Lancaster; Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance; and Joseph Czyzyk, CEO of Los Angeles-based Mercury Air Group; are among those appointed to the panel. None of the officials appointed currently have roles directly tied to the two local bases, according to a release by the governor's office.

Last year, state Sen. Tom Harman passed a series of resolutions aimed at protecting the local bases.

"These bases are not only important for their military service, but also for their impact on local, regional and state economies," Harman said at the time. "These bases are responsible for nearly 1,500 California jobs, not to mention the business they bring to the communities surrounding them. The Orange County economy will suffer and our national security will be compromised without these bases."

A 2012 economic report issued by the naval weapons station details annual economic benefits to the community including over $91 million in industrial output, $38 million in direct payroll expenditures, and nearly $6 million in local and state tax revenues.

The Los Alamitos Joint Forces Training Base includes the Alamitos Army Airfield, the largest Army airfield operated by the National Guard in the country, according to the resolution.

It employs 700 civilians, military personnel and contractors and 3,000 people in the reserve units.

In January, Los Alamitos City Councilman Richard Murphy called on the city to create a plan in case the base is closed amid budget cuts.

“If you follow the budget cuts in the military, I think there’s going to be more and more serious budget cuts under this administration," Murphy said at the time. "We need to go through the exercise of preparing for that.”

The Department of Defense decides what bases to shut down through a process called Base Realignment and Closure. 

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 - City News Service contributed to this report.

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