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Finding New, Peacetime Uses for Costly, Sprawling US Military Bases


September 24, 2018
Joe Mathews / San Francisco Chronicle & Ramstein Air Base

At 200 square miles, California's Camp Pendleton Marine Base is bigger than San Jose. The largest open coastal space between Santa Barbara and Mexico, the property offers scenic mountains, canyons, mesas, estuaries, a lake, a bison preserve, a free-flowing river -- along with theaters, museums, golf courses, a new hospital, scuba center, YMCA, 11 fire stations, five public schools, 14 barbershops, and eight dry cleaners. But now that wars are conducted by drones, how much of the base does the DoD need?

https://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/article/Find-a-new-future-for-Camp-Pendleton-13246486.php

Find a New Future for Camp Pendleton
Joe Mathews / Insight @ San Francisco Chronicle

(September 23, 2018) -- The American military is the world's finest fighting force. But how long can it defend Camp Pendleton?

Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton is a major training center. But at 200 square miles -- bigger than San Jose -- it's also the largest open coastal space between Santa Barbara and Mexico. And its location in crowded Southern California makes its land attractive for nonmilitary uses.

Pendleton's future hasn't received much debate, even though it touches contested congressional districts. Maybe that's because Pendleton's charms remain mostly hidden. Californians think of Pendleton as merely its 17 miles of coast along Interstate 5, but that's only a fraction of a compound running 10 miles inland to Riverside County. The property offers scenery so diverse -- mountains, canyons, mesas, estuaries, a bison preserve, a free-flowing river -- that it feels like a militarized microcosm of California itself.

This diverse geography explains its military value. Pendleton accommodates a wide variety of training for Marines and other military branches. The grounds have prepared Marines who raised the flag at Iwo Jima, landed at Inchon, and fought in Vietnam's jungles, Afghanistan's mountains and Iraq's sands.

Less than 20 percent of the base is developed. The tens of thousands who live and work there don't lack for services. There are theaters, museums, golf courses, a new naval hospital, a scuba center, a YMCA, food franchises (including Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf), a lake, 11 fire stations, five public schools, 14 barbershops, and eight dry cleaners. The official base guide estimates the value of land and improvements at more than $1.7 billion.

That's way up from the $4.2 million the military paid in 1942 after seizing an old rancho -- once owned by Andres and Pio Pico -- as a Pacific training base. It's named for Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Joseph Pendleton, a Coronado mayor who lobbied for a bigger West Coast Marine presence.

For decades, the Marines have successfully defended the base against those most rapacious of Californians -- real estate developers. The military has made strategic concessions, allowing San Onofre State Beach and the now-closed San Onofre nuclear plant to operate on its property.

And Pendleton's record as environmental steward is strong. Base staff have protected endangered species and restored native habitats along the Santa Margarita River, writes Marilyn Berlin Snell in "Unlikely Ally: How the Military Fights Climate Change and Protects the Environment."

But maintaining such magnificent land in Southern California is provocative. San Diego needs a new international airport as Lindbergh reaches capacity; Cal State San Marcos researchers say an airport on less than 5 percent of Pendleton land could produce 100,000 jobs. Pendleton's location and size make it a possible target for expanding universities, new transportation links and addressing the housing crisis.

And now that wars are conducted by drone or the internet, how much does the military need Pendleton? The last major Marine amphibious assault was 68 years ago, and North Carolina's Camp Lejeune also handles varied training. And does the United States, with $1 trillion deficits, require a secondary land force training on valuable California land?

Another problem: Pendleton serves a commander in chief who treats California like an enemy. Time reported Trump's plans to detain 47,000 migrants at Pendleton. If the base were used for rights-violating border policies, California's leaders should pressure the feds to leave.

Camp Pendleton with a diminished military footprint, or without the military at all, might seem unthinkable. But so was the idea of the military surrendering San Francisco's Presidio or Fort Ord on Monterey Bay. Both have productively transitioned to civilian use. Like them, Camp Pendleton is big and beautiful enough to serve us all.

Joe Mathews writes the Connecting California column for Zócalo Public Square.



The Pentagon's Military Base in Germany Includes
'One of the Largest Shopping Centers in the World'

Ramstein Air Base

RAMSTEIN AFB, Germany -- The project totaled approximately $170 million and was the largest single facility construction project in the US Air Force and the US Department of Defense. Construction began with preliminary site clearing in November 2003 and a groundbreaking in the summer 2004.

With the opening of the KMCC in 2009, visitors to Ramstein Air Base and KMC residents are able to access the following facilities: AAFES Exchange, Ramstein Inn's Visitor's Quarters, Outdoor Recreation, Romano's Macaroni Grill, Ramstein Tickets and Tours, the Sports Lounge, as well as a Shoppette, Wasgau German bakery, the "Window to Rheinland Pfalz" information center, nine-counter food court, more than 25 permanent and 15 roving concessionaries, the four-plex movie theater and credit unions.

The KMC Center is designed to provide a one-stop shopping center for travelers and those stationed in the KMC. The consolidated facility is approximately 800,000 square feet (78,000 square meters) and includes an eight-story, 350-room visiting quarters facility.

Other Exchange facilities included are a four-plex movie theater, Power Zone, Outdoor Living, Toyland/Four Seasons, food court, new car sales and other vendors in an American-style mall layout. The Exchange shopping center features some concessionaires available for the first time on US Air Force installations -- stateside and overseas -- as well as a large variety of specialty stores from the local community and the United States.

The south end of the facility includes a spacious Outdoor Recreation facility complete with a two-story climbing wall, the Ramstein Tickets and Tours office, Romano's Macaroni Grill restaurant and a Rooney's.

Features:
* KMCC Lodging: 350 guest rooms, fitness room, business center, KMC Lodging administration offices and KMC Lodging central reservations
* Romano's Macaroni Grill: seats 285 inside and 52 on patio
* Outdoor Recreation: features outdoor equipment rental and a resale section, state-of-the-art climbing complex; arranges and conducts outdoor and adventure-type activities, and provides local area information services
* Sports Lounge: bar service, multiple televisions for viewing sports events, slot room with 20 machines
* Ramstein Tickets and Tours: serves as the KMC leisure travel portal to Germany, Europe and the world; provides information and arrangements for air and train travel, auto rentals, cruise and vacation packages, bus tours throughout Germany and Europe - provided through contracts with local tour and bus companies.

Exchange Vendors
Food Court including:
Popeyes, Johnny Rockets, Manchu Wok, Capt D's, Charley's Steakery, Subway, Taco Bell, Anthony's Pizza and Baskin Robbins . . .

Concessions include:
Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Via Vai Healthy Food Choices, S. Oliver, Nanu Nana, KICKZ, Kaethe Wohlfahrt, Swarovski, Recon, Fashion Jewelry, Shop around the world, European Fashions, Wiggle Steps Hosiery, SIGA Mobile Center, TKS, Barber Shop, Beauty Shop, Day Spa, Shop around the World, Furniture and Accessories, Engraving Shop, Shoe Seibel, Polish Pottery, Flower Shop, "Ramstein Hofbrauhaus" German Restaurant, WASGAU German-Style Bakery, MK Krings Furniture, Alterations, Car Rentals SIXT and Enterprise, New Car Sales, Harley Davidson motorcycles, Optical Shop, Wood Burner, Computer Repair Shop, and coming soon, Dry Cleaning/Laundry/Alterations and Hunkemoeller . . .



Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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