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Area Communities Lobby In Defense of Their Bases

In some cases, officials have high hopes.

"We think we stand to gain another 30,000 to 50,000 jobs," said Marcie Wallis, executive director of the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce, close to Fort Meade, which she estimated generates $1 million in civilian payroll each year.

"It's almost like we haven't had to do much," Wallis said.

Fort Detrick, shown in 2001, is home to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases and is Frederick's largest employer. (Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)

But a large part of the BRAC process is secretive, and there is a lot of guessing. Norm Risavi, county administrator in Westmoreland County, isn't sure size will protect Dahlgren's Navy Surface Warfare Center.

"If you have the most people, I guess the assumption, the forgone conclusion, is that you will receive a hit in this round of closures. Whether that's true of not, I don't know," he said.

"We, along with everyone else, are on the outside looking in. It's difficult to know or understand what the ultimate recommendations are that will come out," said David Dickson, executive director of Virginia's commission on bases, which received a visit at yesterday's meeting from Gov. Mark R. Warner (D).

Warner ceremoniously signed three bills aimed at helping prevent base closures and was applauded by 25 men and women in uniform as cameras snapped.

"We believe Virginia is the cornerstone of the U.S. military," Warner said.

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