The Bay Area and National Security

04.10.10

Categorie: Kyle Mizokami |
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Washington Post

The Washington Post photo.

by KYLE MIZOKAMI

The San Francisco Bay Area has a long association with the armed forces. The Bay Area has hosted the military — or rather someone’s military — in war and peace for more than 200 years. From the founding of the Spanish fort at the Presidio in 1776 to the dotting of the Bay Area landscape with missile silos during the Cold War, the San Francisco Bay Area has seen a continuous military presence for more than two hundred years.

All that is changing. As someone born and raised in San Francisco, I’ve watched as one by one, military bases throughout the Bay Area have closed. The Presidio Army Base, Alameda Naval Air Station, Moffett Field, Fort Mason, Fort Funston, and most recently the Oakland Army Base have all closed down and the overall military presence has been sharply curtailed. It is, as many know, exceptionally rare to see a soldier, sailor, Marine or airman on the streets of San Francisco. The U.S. military sustained more than 2,000 deaths in the Iraq war before the first soldier from the Bay Area was killed. The Bay Area and the military are drifting apart, and if the trend continues both will be poorer for it.

Next week is Fleet Week 2010, the annual visit by the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps to San Francisco. Begun in the 1980s by then-mayor Dianne Feinstein, Fleet Week is a week of liberty and freedom or tours and exhibits, depending on which side of the ship’s rail you stand on. And with the mass downsizing of the military presence here, it’s a good way to remind the people of the Bay Area that the military is still out there. And vice-versa.

Read the rest at The Bay Citizen.

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4 Responses to “The Bay Area and National Security”

  1. FooMan says:

    The end of the article described Makin Island as a hybrid ship. All Navy ships for over 50 years are driven by electric motors and generator sets. The only thing that has changed is what drives the gensets. From steam turbine to gas turbine to diesels.

    The bay area has long forgotten those who serve (my family was there in the early 80′s at the beginning of the base purges, Mare Island is about as close as they want a base), and comrade Feinstein’s efforts have not succeeded in any way. Knowing several active duty service members who have participated in fleet week they tell me there is a distinct ‘leave your money here and get out as fast as you can’ vibe.

    The closing of the bases was supposed to leave a public housing utopia at very low cost for local goverments and lo and behold they discovered they can’t use Treasure Island, Alameda and Oakland are potential super fund sites!

    Foo

  2. Kyle Mizokami says:

    ship. All Navy ships for over 50 years are driven by electric motors and generator sets. The only thing that has changed is what drives the gensets. From steam turbine to gas turbine to diesels.”

    Point taken. I was repeating what Ray Mabus said last month when I went to see him in San Francisco when he described it as a hybrid.

    http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=53960

  3. Adolf Neumann says:

    There were very good reasons why Bay Area military bases like The Presidio Army Base, Alameda Naval Air Station, Moffett Field, Fort Mason, Fort Funston, and the Oakland Army Base were closed down. The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process recognizes that support of the host community is crucial for military bases, and measures this in the BRAC assessment process. The New London, Connecticut community supported its military, fought to keep it, and were successful. At the other extreme, the Bay Area has over many years repeatedly demonstrated its hostility toward the U.S. military. I can attest that from personal experience. While attending Stanford in the 1960s, I was required to wear my Navy enlisted uniform 24/7/365. So I wore it while “playing tourist” visiting San Francisco, Oakland and the surrounding communities. On numerous occasions I was spat upon, called baby killer and warmonger. I never retaliated. Never once did onlookers apologize for the behavior of, or rebuke, the perpetrator. Such actions have continued to this day. In other parts of the country I was told “Thank you for your service.” or had someone offer to pick up the check for my dinner. On top of that, I heard several San Francisco Mayors state that the military should leave the Bay Area. When the BRAC commission took them at their word, decided that the Bay Area civilian population did not support the military, and acted to close bases that the populace and leaders stated they did not want, the politicians including Dianne Feinstein castigated the military. They got what they had requested. If Bay Area communities want the military to return, they will need to campaign much, much harder for even longer than they did to get them to leave.

  4. Kyle Mizokami says:

    By no means do I mean to imply that military hates the Bay Area, and vice-versa.

    As for BRAC, my understanding is that Bay Area bases were closed based on relatively fair strategic reasoning. Alameda was closed because the US Navy shed four carrier battle groups, and decided to consolidate. Presidio was closed because 6th Army was a redundancy, Moffett because several VP squadrons were closed, etc. It’s possible that the military did take into account regional attitudes (and I will admit, there is some) but there were other–actually sound–reasons.

    re: Dianne Feinstein, in all fairness she was very welcoming of the military when she was a mayor. She was the mayor that got Fleet Week up and running, and she fought to have USS Missouri based in San Francisco when the ship returned to active duty in the mid-80s and the Navy was implementing Secretary Lehman’s homeporting strategy.

    Some members of the military and veterans hate the Bay Area, and some members of the Bay Area hate the military. But I’d rather build a bridge between the two rather than listen to each of them complain about the other.

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