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    Friday, December 02, 2022

    Base-saving lesson

    Last week Tom Foley, Republican candidate for governor, seized upon new concerns that the Naval Submarine Base in Groton could show up on some future base-closure list to show he is a man of action. Calling a news conference, he named fellow Republican and former U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons to direct a team of volunteers to counsel him on the issue. Adding to the event's partisan nature, other Republicans running for office joined Mr. Foley at the event.

    Foley apparently forgot the most important aspect of the successful effort to save the base in 2005 - bipartisanship. After the Pentagon targeted the base for closing five years ago, Republican and Democratic leaders closed ranks with the business and military community to make a strong case for its military value. They succeeded when the base-closure committee voted to remove the Groton base from the closure list.

    It would have been great to have instead seen Mr. Foley join his Democratic opponent, Dan Malloy, in naming a Democrat and Republican to direct an advisory committee. That would have delivered the message that no matter who is elected, both sides would work together to protect the base.

    Of course, this may all turn out to be much ado about nothing. Concerns that the Pentagon could again look at closing the base as a cost-cutting move are at this point highly speculative. True, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is looking for ways to rein in military spending. And Connecticut needs to be on watch for the possibility that Mr. Gates might try to close the base under his own authority, a move that would need congressional approval but would bypass the review process that saved the Groton base the last time. But the base is not in imminent danger.

    If the time does come to again mobilize to save the base, political partisanship needs to be checked at the door.

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