Wednesday, Feb. 12 the City of San Angelo Development Corporation approved $7,000 to be put towards paying Brigadier General Scott Bethel a consulting fee for the upcoming budget cuts and a potential Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), which means that every base in America will be looked at in an effort to determine whether or not to completely or partially closes bases.
COSADC joined the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce in approval of hiring Bethel, with San Angelo Independent School District and Tom Green County decisions still pending.
“Everyone is talking as though they are supportive,” said Phil Neighbors, Chamber of Commerce President.
The reason the entities are even considering hiring Bethel as a consultant comes from national news that the Department of Defense (DOD) is to require budget cuts, and the Pentagon has slated Base Realignment and Closures for fiscal year 2014.
In an interview with Stars and Stripes, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta mentioned that there were reductions in personnel made, therefore the infrastructure should also be reduced.
Neighbors went before the COSADC board with the proposal that San Angelo get ahead of the curve and prepare for the cost cutting and possible BRAC coming down the pipe in 2015 or 2017.
“We need to make sure that if we have a BRAC we are good,” said Neighbors. “We don’t want to take anything for granted.”
He also mentioned that the DOD wants non-essential services cut, regardless of whether a BRAC occurs. Bases across the country would be expected to cut services like entertainment, retail and even childcare. The idea being that the private sector could come in and take over those services.
With the looming threat of BRAC and budget cuts, hiring Bethel seems to be a popular choice across the board. The Brigadier General is also works with Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) at Lackland Air Force Base, as well as being the former Wing Commander of Goodfellow from 2005 to 2007.
Neighbors feels that Bethel will be able to convey the value and uniqueness of what Goodfellow has to offer for a fraction of the price that a lobbying firm in Washington D.C. would cost to hire.
“The ISR training is not duplicated anywhere and is provided for military units of all branches,” Neighbors explained. Additionally, Neighbors mentioned that Goodfellow is the largest employer in San Angelo, and supporting the base is in the strategic plan used by COSADC.
Members of the board did agree that hiring Bethel would allow them to further support Goodfellow Air Force Base, and approved the maximum amount of funds, $7,000, to be used to cover Bethel’s services.