A united front among Utahns will be a key component in the upcoming battle to keep Hill Air Force Base open and off the next list of U.S. military bases to be closed.
That list will be determined by the fall of 2005.
Consider what’s at stake! With some 23,000 jobs, Hill Air Force Base is Utah’s largest employer. The annual payroll is about $850-million. Hill’s impact on the Utah economy is in the billions.
If politics weren’t involved, there’s little question Hill would survive. Its contribution toward the nation’s defense is unique and vital. Of special importance is the proximity of the Utah Test and Training Range. The ace in the hole, though, is an exceptionally capable workforce.
Unfortunately, such important government decisions are rarely made based solely on merit. The clout of Utah’s congressional delegation will surely come into play. And it will require the determined skill of the state chartered Utah Defense Alliance to defend Hill.
Taxpayers can be grateful the Pentagon wants to save money – some $7 billion a year – by closing unneeded and inefficient bases. Utah’s challenge is demonstrating Hill is both needed and efficient. With the unified support of all Utahns and their leaders, KSL is hopeful Hill Air Force Base will survive the nail-biting, even painful base evaluation process.