BRAC missed the mark by some 130 miles

The Defense Department was roughly 130 miles off in its recommendation to close the munitions depot at Hawthorne.

That's the distance from Hawthorne to Reno - not exactly a daily commute.

Yet when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission was deciding to recommend closure of the base at Hawthorne, it calculated the loss of jobs on the Reno metropolitan area. That's pretty much all you need to know to understand why high-level BRAC and Defense Department officers are visiting the town this week and next to get some accurate information.

We don't know how much the visits will help Hawthorne, but it doesn't speak well for the deliberations of the commission to know their data was full of holes. A base closure could mean the loss of 539 jobs in Hawthorne- more than a quarter of all the jobs in the town.

As we've said before, however, the Pentagon shouldn't be making closure decisions on the basis of economic impact to the community. If it makes more sense to consolidate operations elsewhere, then by all means create an efficiently operating military.

Yet, the logic behind the recommendation for Hawthorne doesn't seem to follow that form either.

The Hawthorne Army Depot has plenty of room and facilities. It is a long way from any metropolitan area (including Reno). In fact, it seems like the perfect place to consolidate operations in Hawthorne, where the Army wouldn't run into the problems of lack of space that it has at other bases.

The Nevada Air National Guard wing in Reno is another matter entirely. Here, BRAC is recommending taking away a unit crucial to much more than military operations. Its C-130s respond to a variety of emergencies around the region. They won't do Northern Nevada much good in Arkansas.

The commission should see the opportunities in Hawthorne, realize the need in Reno, and scrap its recommendations for both. A bit of a geography lesson wouldn't hurt, either.


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