A major military branch checks out the Peninsula as a potential new home.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Monterey’s military might could soon grow.
The U.S. Army may relocate its Civil Affairs school, which trains soldiers to act as liaisons between military commanders and civilians in war zones and disaster areas, from the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in Fort Bragg, N.C., to the Monterey Peninsula.
“We’re madly trying to recruit Civil Affairs,” U.S. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) told the Weekly Oct. 18. The move would relocate between 250 and 300 officers and personnel by mid-2014 to either the Peninsula or Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., according to Carlton Harris, a military analyst with the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.
Harris says a final decision on Civil Affair’s new location is expected in January. The relocation budget isn’t yet set, but Army officials project costs to come in around $100 million.
Presidio spokesman Dan Carpenter confirms Army officials have made multiple site visits to Monterey in the past two months, taking stock of existing educational and housing facilities at the Naval Postgraduate School, Defense Language Institute and the former Fort Ord.
Harris says the Peninsula’s military facilities weren’t initially on the short list to house a relocated Civil Affairs, but staff in the office of the Assistant Secretary for Defense of Reserve Affairs pushed for Monterey.
“They played up the language training and depth of postgraduate work at DLI and NPS,” Harris says.
These high-level decisions, ultimately green-lighted by Secretary of Defense and Monterey native Leon Panetta, could have far-reaching local impacts.
Hundreds of new military personnel on the Peninsula could inject new lifeblood into its cities’ economies, according to Monterey City Manager Fred Meurer. The Civil Affairs center’s focus on teaching non-combat field skills as wide-ranging as public administration and agricultural services would complement curricula at DLI and NPS.
“This would give us another anchor to highlight our focus on cultural and language training,” says Meurer, who has not been a part of the relocation discussions but makes several trips to Washington each year to advocate for the Presidio’s programs and resources.
“Since Sam Farr introduced the ‘Team Monterey’ concept in 1993, we’ve been trying to complement DLI and NPS by surrounding them with other civilian activities,” Meurer says.
He’s talking about Farr’s efforts to establish cooperation between Peninsula military agencies to make them more competitive for federal funding and attract attention to their assets.
“We’ll do whatever we can to support it,” Meurer says.