Originally created 05/11/05

Fort Gordon's efforts to be answered Friday



Friday the 13th, after all, will be the date when Augustans will know more about Fort Gordon's fate.

While things can change at the last minute, the Defense Department has signaled that the list of bases it wants to close or realign as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure will be released Friday morning.

Congressional offices will be notified after 9 a.m., officials say.

Ray DuBois, the Acting Under Secretary of the Army who has been heavily involved in the BRAC process, said a news conference at the Pentagon is expected to take place at 10:30 a.m. to release the list to the public.

The list will be released to news reporters and is expected to be posted online on the Defense Department's Web site, www.defenselink.mil/brac.

The CSRA Alliance for Fort Gordon is planning to hold a news conference of its own, regardless of whether Fort Gordon is on the list, at 2 p.m.

Though it's not the final, definitive list of which bases will be closed, the likelihood of a base getting off the initial list is very low. The nine-member BRAC Commission will review the list and submit it for President Bush's approval or rejection by September.

Rumors of which bases are on the list are running rampant in Washington.

"Of course, rumors have been circulating for more than two years," said Bob Hurt, of Hurt Norton and Associates, a D.C.-based consulting firm for the alliance. "They've just gotten more entertaining."

"I get tons of rumors," said Thom Tuckey, Fort Gordon's former garrison commander and adviser for the alliance. "Someone calls me every hour with one. My standard answer is that until I see it in writing, it's all rumors."

If Fort Gordon does not make it onto the closure list - and local leaders say they're "cautiously optimistic" that it won't - the post could gain missions and personnel.

But Mr. Tuckey said expect for the losers to get highly vociferous - possibly attacking Fort Gordon and Augusta.

"It's going to get really ugly," he said. "If it's a major mission or another school we're talking about, the losing community is going to go on the offensive. Anything negative about the installation or the community is going to get resurfaced," he said.

Reach Jeremy Craig at (706) 823-3409 or jeremy.craig@augustachronicle.com.