Fearing changes that could result in a future loss of federal revenue — and work opportunities — the Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously approved Riverside County’s membership in a national organization that advocates preservation of defense industry jobs and retention of military installations.
In addition to setting aside $450 for annual dues to the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Defense Communities, the board assigned Supervisors Karen Spiegel and Manuel Perez to represent the county in the ADC’s functions.
County Legislative Affairs Director Brian Nestande is also expected to take a leading role, and former county Military Affairs Commissioner Tom Freeman, Perez’s chief policy adviser, is likely to provide input.
According to documents posted to the board’s agenda, the county’s state and federal lobbyists will be tasked with engaging the ADC to assist in advocacy campaigns, and county Executive Office staff may from time to time undertake research in support of the group’s mission.
The association has been active since the 1970s under different titles, and according to its website, significant resources have been dedicated to securing enhancements to military facilities for the betterment of communities and mitigating the impacts of the Base Realignment & Closure — BRAC — process that started in the early 1990s.
Concerns have been raised lately, with Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, being the most vociferous, about the prospect of March Air Reserve Base in Moreno Valley losing its Defense Media Activity unit, which the Pentagon is in favor of downsizing and consolidating with a unit at Fort Meade in Maryland.
The unit handles broadcasting Armed Forces Network radio and television broadcasts overseas, as well as archives Department of Defense video and still images, according to the Pentagon.
Of the roughly 2,400 jobs attached to the air base, 250 are directly connected to the Defense Media Activity unit, Takano’s office said.
The process of repositioning the unit to Fort Meade, and dissolving the March jobs, is expected to take about five years, provided the Pentagon fulfills its objectives.
According to county documents, March Air Reserve Base and the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Norco generate about $1.5 billion in annual economic activity regionally.