During “Member Day” in Washington, D.C. on April 11, Congressman Ruben J. Kihuen testified before the House Armed Services Committee on the importance that Nevada plays for national security for the country.
Kihuen had visited the Hawthorne Army Depot earlier at the end of March of this year, touring the facility and familiarizing himself with how the depot operates.
During his testimony, he said, “Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, and my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to come before the committee to discuss the vital role military installations in Nevada’s Fourth Congressional District play in protecting our national security. “
Nellis Air Force Base, outside of Las Vegas was mentioned in his comments as well as the Nevada Test and Training Range. He stated that Nellis’ Thunderbirds, “Showcases the remarkable skills of our nation’s most highly-trained military pilots.”
Nellis employs 11,000 military personnel and 3,700 civilian employees, which makes it one of the largest employers in the State of Nevada. The economic benefit brings $5.5 billion to Nevada. Besides the Thunderbirds, Nellis is also home to the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, which he described as “the largest and most demanding advanced air combat training center mission in the world.” On the range, more than 75 percent of all live munitions used by the Air Force training are dropped there.
He also mentioned RED FLAG, a premier military training exercise and Creech Air Force Base.
His final comment was in regards to Mineral County, home of Hawthorne Army Depot. Kihuen said, “Finally, I would like to recognize the importance of the Hawthorne Army Depot in Hawthorne, Nevada. If you visit the Depot, which I recently did, you will see thousands of munitions storage structures dotting the Nevada desert. These facilities are used to ship thousands of tons of munitions per year to the Warfighter and receive thousands of tons of munitions per year for disposal. In addition, Hawthorne is home to a detachment of the Nevada Undersea Warfare Center.”
The depot is the largest employer in Mineral County and had previously been on the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) list in 2005 after the Pentagon had recommended the closure and shipping of all munitions to Toole Army Depot in Utah. Concern members applied pressure to keep the depot open and running. The commission considered whether Mineral County would have more economic development, if the depot closed but then BRAC commission chairman Anthony Prinicipi stated, “That would almost be impossible.”
Mineral County residents would not give up without a fight and in July of 2005, over 600 people filled the Mineral County High School gym.
Commissioner Philip Coyle, who was at this rally, would go on to say, “This is a site with high military value for its mission. Cost savings have been overstated (by the Pentagon).”
Hawthorne Army Depot was spared from closure in 2005.
While the Hawthorne Army Depot continues its daily operations of 88 years of service to the warfighter, Kihuen would conclude to the House Armed Forces Committee, “The Fourth Congressional District in Nevada plays an essential role in protecting our national security and supporting our military. That is why I am asking that you continue to authorize operations that occur at Nellis, Creech, the Nevada Test and Training Range as well as the Hawthorne Army Depot as part of the NDAA [National Defense Authorization Act] so that Nevada can continue to lead the way in conducting vital missions all around the globe. I want to thank you for your time in letting me come before the committee.”