Defense group hears soothing words

Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 11:23 AM.

“Gen. Bunch is an admirable man. I think those of us who know him are comfortable taking him at his word,” Breitenfeld said. “His sensitivity to our concerns is an important thing, and I believe to the degree he can support the mission at Eglin he will do that. I am encouraged by what he said.”

The Florida Defense Support Task Force, which met Wednesday morning for the first time in Okaloosa County, was established in January shortly after the Air Force announced its consolidation plans.

Its goal is to protect the state’s 20 military installations as fears of severe budget cuts and more expansive base realignment and consolidation efforts loom.

Task force members closed their meeting to the public about halfway through so that they could discuss a report prepared for them on the strengths and weaknesses of Florida’s military installations.

The report will be used for guidance as efforts are made to protect those bases from downsizing and to sell them as destinations for missions displaced by realignment pressure elsewhere, task force member and state Rep. Matt Gaetz said.

Gaetz could not speak specifically about the report, but said Florida bases appeared to score well in comparison to others, and Northwest Florida’s bases scored particularly well.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, reported that the task force’s mission has been accepted and embraced across Florida and is being eyed with some envy.

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