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PLAN TO PUT SOME DEPOTS BACK ON LIST DOESN'T SURPRISE UTAHNS

Supporters of Hill Air Force Base aren't surprised that congressional investigators believe the Air Force should have proposed closing Hill Air Force Base's air logistics center or some of its four sister depots.

"We anticipated it," said Mike Pavich, president of Hill/DDO '95, the community group working to keep Hill and Defense Depot Ogden open. "We knew this was going to happen."Indeed, ever since the Department of Defense made its recommendations for base closures to the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) on Feb. 28, Pavich and others have predicted that BRAC would put all or some of the five air logistics centers back on the list.

It has long been known that there is excess capacity at the ALCs, to the extent of the equivalent workload of about two depots. Henry Hinton, assistant comptroller general of the U.S. General Accounting Office, put the number at 13/4 depots in testimony before the closure commission Monday.

The Defense Department recommended downsizing and consolidating all ALCs instead of closing any of them, which Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, has called a political stunt. The two ALCs most likely to be closed would be in California and Texas, states important to President Clinton's re-election bid.

Utah dignitaries will present the case for Hill, Defense Depot Ogden and Dugway Proving Ground on Thursday in Albuquerque at a BRAC regional hearing. Pavich said he wasn't going to change his approach at the hearing on account of Hinton's testimony, which makes it more probable that Hill will be back on the chopping block.

"We're spending less time at the hearing on Hill (than Defense Depot Ogden)," he said. "We're focusing on those positive aspects of the base," including the fact that the Air Force previously rated Hill and Ogden Air Logistics Center No. 1 among ALCs and the bases on which they reside.

In addition, Pavich will push the findings of a joint military cross-service group focusing on maintenance depots, which put Hill's ALC in the first tier.

"In every analysis, Hill comes out on top," Pavich said.

Pavich has already seen some of the fruits of his labors. In a presentation to two BRAC commissioners, Wendi Steele and Lee Kling, when they visited Defense Depot Ogden last week, he argued that the depot should not be closed as recommended because it is actually easier and less expensive to transport materials from Ogden to West Coast locations than from a California-based depot.

Steele picked up on that in BRAC's Monday hearing, repeating the argument to Hinton, and Kling expressed concern about keeping Ogden's mobile hospital operation either at Ogden or at Hill.