BRUNSWICK – If the Brunswick Naval Air Station appears on the Pentagon’s closure list, supporters of the local base aim to take their message to the public.

“We’ve been really quiet,” said Ralph Dean, a retired Navy captain. “But that will change.”

The NAS Brunswick Task Force has hired a public relations firm, chosen a still-secret spokesman and prepared a commercial to be shown on local TV in the event that the base is targeted by the Pentagon.

“It’s extremely important that we’re ready for whatever the outcome is,” said Richard Tetrev, the task force’s chairman. “It’s going to be a fast-moving train.”

It would be a huge change for the group of volunteers, mostly Navy retirees from the Brunswick area.

Their strategy so far has been to spend their time as an information resource: conducting research in Washington, meeting with Pentagon decision-makers, and feeding facts and analysis about the base to Maine’s congressional delegation.

Maine’s senators and congressmen have been meeting with military leaders for months. Among them were Admiral Timothy Keating, who leads the U.S. Northern Command; Thomas Hall, the assistant secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs; and Admiral Michael G. Mullen, the Pentagon’s nominee to be the next chief of naval operations.

The meetings have all been quiet, though.

To create a public spectacle now would accomplish nothing. “That’s not how the process works,” Tetrev said. Until the list comes out, every base’s fate is in the hands of the Pentagon, which is charged with basing its decisions on the “military value” of each base. Such issues as the economic impact of a closure or the military’s popularity are supposed to be irrelevant.

However, when the list comes out, it will go to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission. Though it is meant to be an impartial, non-political entity, the group is destined to be lobbied heavily by communities near every targeted base.

For the Brunswick base, letter-writing campaigns, news conferences and rallies might all be organized, Tetrev said.

“Everybody goes into overdrive,” he said.



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