Point Mugu Hopes to Get Squadrons

Navy officials and local military boosters are hoping to lure two reserve helicopter squadrons from the soon-to-be-shuttered El Toro Marine base in Orange County.

El Toro spokesman Capt. Robert McCarthy said Thursday that Point Mugu is competing with five other Southern California bases trying to attract the squadrons of 20 helicopters that could bring up to 500 active-duty personnel and reservists to Point Mugu each weekend.

He refused to speculate how long it might take Department of Defense officials to decide.

"It could happen overnight, or it could take awhile," McCarthy said.

The push to bring the two squadrons to Mugu comes as base officials, military advocates and economic development officials look to bolster bases against military downsizing efforts.

Although spared in the last round of base closures, both the Mugu Naval Air Weapons Station and its sister base, the Port Hueneme Naval Construction Battalion Center, have agreed to cut costs by combining public works, police, fire and recreation--moves that will result in the loss of mostly civilian jobs.

This summer, however, the county will see the Navy begin to bring a squadron of E-2C Hawkeye radar planes to Mugu from San Diego, and about 2,500 military personnel and their families along with them.

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