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Big gain for LRAFB

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The long-awaited Pentagon recommendations on military base closures and realignment were released Friday and they brought good news, on balance, to Arkansas. Little Rock Air Force Base is going to gain more than 3,800 new personnel and 43 C-130 aircraft from other bases scheduled for closure or reductions in North Carolina, Texas, New York, Nevada, Ohio and Wisconsin. The breakdown is a gain of 3,579 military and 319 civilian slots, with a loss of 16 military jobs in current missions. This is good news for U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder, an Armed Services Committee member and staunch advocate for the base and the C-130 mission, including a new model of the plane that has come under criticism in some quarters. He faces a Republican opponent in the 2006 election. There was some bad news for Arkansas. The recommendations call for closure of the El Dorado Armed Forces Reserve Center, which has 24 military jobs, and the closure of the Pine Bluff Stone Army Reserve Center, which has 30 military and 4 civilian slots. But a spokesman for Congressman Snyder said the Stone Center closing could be offset by construction of a new reserve center on the Pine Bluff Arsenal grounds and so no jobs should be lost on account of this change. Jobs will be lost because of realignments in a fighter wing at Fort Smith that employes 1,000 currently and at an Army Reserve command at Camp Pike in North Litttle Rock. The National Guard said in a release, "IThe Army Reserve's 90th Regional Readiness Command at Camp Pike and the Arkansas Air National Guard's 188th Fighter Wing are recommended for realignment with net personnel losses of 177 and 78 respectively. ... "While we are disappointed to learn of any recommended losses affecting the Arkansas National Guard, we're extremely pleased that none of our facilities are recommended for closure," said Maj. Gen. Don C. Morrow, the adjutant general of Arkansas. "We will need some time to review the details of the Secretary of Defense's 1,000-page report before we can determine the potential impact these recommendations will have on our units." There's bad news for Arkansas in Texas, where the Pentagon recommended closure of the Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas. Some 2,500 jobs will be lost, many of them to Arkansas residents. The Pine Bluff Arsenal was unaffected by the recommendations. The nine-member Base Realignment and Closure Commission will review the Pentagon's recommendations and send them, along with any changes, to the White House by Sept. 8.

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