In visit to McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, Rep. MacArthur underscores value of joint base

 U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (center left) and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry (center), chairman of the Armed Services Committee,  tour a KC-10 aerial refueling plane at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur (center left) and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry (center), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, tour a KC-10 aerial refueling plane at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

In a bid to highlight Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in his home district, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) hosted House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) for a tour of the installation and several briefings Friday afternoon.

The trip came just weeks after President Obama signed a $607 billion defense spending bill, which contained two key provisions MacArthur backed to support the joint base referred to as MDL.

One of those provisions prevents the Pentagon from closing any U.S. military bases in the next two years, as fears continue to grow of another round of Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) cuts.

“Once they’re closed, they never open again. Once we give up an asset, we’re not getting it back again,” said MacArthur.

“This is a world that’s spinning out of control in some respects and getting more dangerous.”

The other major provision prevents the Pentagon from retiring the KC-10 fleet, a squadron of giant mid-air refueling planes and one of the main missions at MDL.

On Friday base officials escorted the two Republicans to the tarmac to show off one of the many KC-10s, while also briefing them on the military’s need for reliable air-to-air refueling capabilities based on the East Coast.

Thornberry said he was “pretty amazed” overall at how well the Army, Air Force, and Navy integrated their operations at MDL, holding it up as an example of how the country can spend money on defense more shrewdly.

“It seems to be working well on the ground here today,” Thornberry said. “I think our job in Congress is to help the Pentagon become more like this Joint Base, to make better use of resources. Our goal is to make Washington more like this.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.