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Pentagon to Seek Fewer Base Closings in 1995 Cutbacks

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Pentagon will recommend fewer military bases for shutdown in 1995 than it did in the last big round of base closings two years ago, and California is likely to escape the heavy impact that it suffered in 1993, Clinton Administration officials said Thursday.

The disclosure that this year’s round of base closings will be smaller was made by Defense Secretary William J. Perry. He did not say how many bases the Pentagon ultimately will seek to close. In 1993, 35 major bases were ordered closed, seven of them in California.

Perry did not address the outlook for California but some well-placed officials suggested that the state is unlikely to be as heavily affected, both because it was hit so hard in 1993 and because its economy still has not bounced back fully.

Most of the major military installations left in California are considered crucial to the needs of the services--such as the San Diego Naval Station, which is to become the Navy’s West Coast hub--or are huge training facilities that cannot easily be closed.

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Perry’s announcement came as a surprise. Until now, Pentagon officials had been hinting that the new round of base closings, which will be decided in September, would be about as large as the previous one because it is the last of four rounds of shutdowns authorized by Congress.

Administration strategists had been suggesting that the Pentagon would try to close as many bases as it can this year because maintaining a large number of bases is siphoning money away from training, modernization and weapons acquisition.

Two years ago, Les Aspin, Perry’s predecessor as defense secretary, predicted that this year’s round would be “the mother of all base closings.” And Perry said last December that the 1995 round would be about the size of that in 1993.

But Perry said Thursday that this year’s recommended cutback will be smaller because the military services had already closed most of the facilities that clearly were not needed and because there is not enough money to close a large number of additional installations.

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