Over at The New London Day, we find a good article that summarizes the state of things as the BRAC commission finishes up their work ahead of the 08 Sept deadline for sending the list to the President. (The commission may vote on which bases to remove from the list as early as tomorrow.) Representative Simmons, who IMHO hasn't done the best job he could have in defending the base (he's been going a little overboard with the alarmist rhetoric on occasion), called out the new VCNO for some remarks during ADM Willard's recent testimony to the commission:
"In a three-page letter to the chairman of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, Simmons, R-2nd District, called the comment by Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert F. Willard “astounding and insulting...”
“...The submarine service is made up of people with incredible technical capability, who operate in a hostile environment where cold calculation is a matter of life and death,” Simmons wrote. “To call their opinions ‘emotional' is a slap in the face.
“These are men who have risen to the top of their profession because of their ability, not their emotion, and now that they are retired they are no longer bound to follow the chain of command — they no longer have to say what the Pentagon wants them to say. They can speak honestly and openly, and that's just what they have done.”
In his comments last week, Willard urged the commission to consider the context of the statements being filed in favor of the base. He said many of the retired top Navy brass who wrote in support of keeping the base open were “linked emotionally to New London,” adding that many of them “regard it as home.”
While it's true that all submarine officers have lived in Groton at one time or another, I think that the wide spectrum of submariners defending Groton is evidence that something other than "emotionalism" is involved. While there are a few submariners who would be happy to see Groton go by the wayside, I think most would regret the loss of infrastructure and dislocation a closure would cause. (And we need to be honest: Groton in the summer is better than Kings Bay during the August heat.)