Interview: Head of Commission to Guard VA Defense from Cuts - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Interview: Head of Commission to Guard VA Defense from Cuts

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As federal sequestration cuts take their toll on Virginia, state leaders are working to prevent further losses. Governor Bob McDonnell signed an order to reconstitute Virginia's Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities earlier in March to help prevent such losses. Retired Navy Admiral John C. Harvey, who currently lives in Charlottesville, will head the commission.

Admiral John Harvey recently retired to Charlottesville after almost 40 years in the U.S. Navy, and three years as commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command.

His retirement, however, will not be spent on the golf course. Harvey was chosen by Governor McDonnell to lead a special group aimed at addressing possible threats to the state's defense sector, as the Department of Defense considers closing or reorganizing military bases across the country.

Whether it came through sequestration or some other means, Harvey says massive defense cuts that went into effect earlier this month were not a surprise.

"Every upswing has a downswing at some point. And this one was coming, and I think now it has started," said Harvey.

Now, the Department of Defense is looking to fill a $42 billion hole, and a new round of base realignment and closure, or brac, seems inevitable.

"There's no imminent - this is the date when it hits. You know, that hasn't been decided yet. But we want to be ready, and that's what we'll do," said Harvey.

The goal of the new commission is to protect existing military installations, and encourage future growth.

"The goal is for this commission to help Virginia be as ready as possible to sustain what we have and then show, hey we have capacity to grow more," said Harvey.

That starts with examining every one of the state's military installations, highlighting their importance and searching for other opportunities for further growth if and when 'brac' does occur.

"In the midst of chaos, there is always opportunity," said Harvey - opportunities he thinks will help Virginia avoid further hardship, and come out on top. "We will do this. We will be ready for it. We will have Virginia postured to succeed in the most difficult of times," said Harvey.

The commission will present its findings to the governor in early 2014. A new governor will have assumed office by then, and that's why Harvey says his goal is to make the commission as apolitical and bipartisan as possible.

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