A private group working to save Hill Air Force Base will meet behind closed doors this week with some of the nation's most influential military leaders.
Members will push a plan that would guarantee the salvation of the base and bring more jobs.The plan suggests the Department of Defense create a maintenance depot at the base's Air Logistics Center that would do more work for not just the Air Force but also the Navy and perhaps the Army.
"It's always been our position that if in order to keep the bases open we needed to put more Navy or Army people in command, we could do that," says Mike Pavich, a retired major general who is president of Hill/DDO '95. "Besides, if we're going to consolidate, Hill's ALC is the best place to do it."
The center already does about $30 million worth of repairs every year on the Navy's F/A 18 Hornet fighter. The Army spends about $2 million each year on adjustments to some of its missile systems.
The plan the group will push would simply expand that type of work, bringing it from other defense depots that will eventually close.
Pavich and nine other members of the committee will meet with the under and deputy secretaries of defense and Air Force Secretary Sheila Widnall.
"I don't know how they'll respond but the plan makes absolute sense and we're confident our story is compelling," Pavich said.
If, for example, the Navy moved its entire Hornet repair operation to Hill, the number of jobs now on the project would increase by at least a third. And the government would save money because it wouldn't have to maintain two separate locations for the same work.
Hill won the Navy contract in competition last year because it could do the work for less money than anyone else.
The plan follows closely a memo issued by the secretary of defense's office this month. In it, the office said refurbishment of fixed-wing aircraft (Hill's specialty) was ripe for consolidation.
"Yes, that helps our arguments. But consolidation is something we've been thinking about for a long time," Pavich said.
His group also hopes to get some verbal commitment from the secretary of the Air Force about whether her office will offer up two or no ALCs for closure in 1995 hearings.
Some officials have said the Air Force will suggest two, possibly Hill and the one at McClellan Air Force Base in California.
But "hearsay" lately is that the Air Force believes all its ALCs are valuable and could become maintenance depots for much of the Department of Defense's repair work, Pavich said.