Hawthorne needs more than an apology

Now that Hawthorne residents can sigh in relief that 1,100 jobs won't be disappearing, they ought to be angry - and the rest of us should be a little bit worried.

The Army Depot in the small Mineral County town was spared this week by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which decided to reverse itself and the Pentagon's recommendation to shut it down and move tons of munitions elsewhere.

What changed their minds? The facts.

The initial recommendation was inaccurate on so many fronts that it's hard to know where to begin. From the location just outside Reno to the number of jobs affected to the amount of material stored at the depot to the capacity of another depot to handle it, the Army was wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.

If we were looking to downsize the military, we know where we'd look: The people putting together these base-realignment reports.

We don't want to paint the military with too broad a brush, but if they can't figure out what's going on with their own bases, it's hard to have much confidence in their assessment of the enemy's.

Hawthorne has only about 1,800 jobs total, and closure could have knocked out 1,100 of them. Everybody in town would have been affected.

Why were these people put through four months of uncertainty? Imagine the families thinking of buying or selling houses, sending their kids back to school, investing in their businesses, or a thousand other decisions.

We've said before that the effect on the local residents and economy shouldn't be a primary concern when the Pentagon is considering realignments. But the Defense Department does owe the residents of Hawthorne more than a shrug and apology.

It owes them a commitment.


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