Connecticut Military Affairs Office Keeps Sights On Sub Base
Defense Communities 360
July 19, 2015
Connecticut’s Office Military Affairs (OMA) has begun to evolve after it was first created eight years ago, but its primary focus remains supporting Naval Submarine Base New London and ensuring it does not become a candidate for closure in a future BRAC round.
The need for the office became apparent after state and local officials successfully fought to convince the 2005 BRAC Commission to overturn DOD’s recommendation to close the installation.
“The idea was that the state of Connecticut could no longer afford to ignore the fact that the submarine base in Groton had a vital impact on our communities in southeastern Connecticut, the economy of those communities and the economy of the state,” Rob Simmons, the Republican congressman for Connecticut’s second district in 2005, told the Day.
The state established OMA in 2007, with the goal of coordinating efforts to prevent the closure or downsizing of the sub base, and to serve as a liaison to local and state officials on defense issues emanating from Washington.
One of the office’s responsibilities is using $40 million set aside by the Connecticut General Assembly to support New London through investments in its on-base infrastructure and training capabilities. So far the state has funded five projects at the sub base, with a sixth to be completed this summer. The state’s Bond Commission approved two more projects in May.
“I didn’t want to empty the checkbook on my first day,” Bob Ross, who has led OMA since 2009, told the Day.
More recently, the office has taken on a greater role as an advocate for the state’s active-duty personnel and their families. For example, Ross worked with superintendents of area magnet schools to save some spots for military families who have not yet moved to Connecticut when the schools’ admissions lotteries are held.
And when the next BRAC does occur, Ross is confident the submarine base will survive. It has “history, heritage and national significance” and “synergy that can’t be duplicated.”