The City of White Hall is taking a pro-active stance in an effort to ensure that the Pine Bluff Arsenal continues to operate in the face of proposed federal legislation calling for "consolidation, closure and realignment of military instillation’s in the United States."

The City of White Hall is taking a pro-active stance in an effort to ensure that the Pine Bluff Arsenal continues to operate in the face of proposed federal legislation calling for "consolidation, closure and realignment of military instillation’s in the United States."


White Hall Mayor Noel Foster proposed and the White Hall City Council on Monday adopted an ordinance establishing The Mayor’s Military Advisory Committee, a group of seven-to-nine individuals who will, among other things, promote and protect the mission of the arsenal, communicate with state and federal legislators on ways to support the arsenal, and focus attention on the needs of the arsenal and its employees.


"White Hall and Pine Bluff have always been publicly and deeply supportive of the arsenal but we formed this organization to give a more organized effort to that support," Foster said.


Pete Potochney, the assistant secretary of defense in charge of installations, told House lawmakers at a budget hearing held earlier this year in Washington, D.C., that "given the need to find efficiencies and reexamine how our infrastructure is configured, the administration is requesting the authority from Congress to conduct a 2019 [Base Realignment and Closure] round."


Potochney said the country has about 20 percent excess capacity in its military installations, a surplus that is wasting taxpayer money and diverting resources from weapons systems and other priorities.


While the Air Force and Army have the greatest excess capacity, 30 percent and 18 percent respectively, Potochney said the Defense Department is conducting a "wide parametric analysis" as directed by a defense bill Congress approved last year.


The last round of base closings occurred more than a decade ago, in 2005, when the military services closed 24 bases, realigned two dozen others and cut about 12,000 civilian jobs.


While Foster said he expects the proposed legislation to fail, the city of White Hall wanted to get out front and do what they could to show support for the facility.


"Successful communities with military instillation’s have military advisory committees or commissions to promote those instillation’s and we have a wonderful and very talented workforce out there that we want to support," Foster said.


In addition to working with the governor’s task force on military instillation’s, Foster said the city is also working with defense communities, a national organization that he described as a "great resource for our community."


A resolution by the White Hall City Council that was also approved Monday named David Beck, Beaver Johnson, Chad Pittillo, Ed Monk and Steve Lowery as members of the committee, and Foster said Thursday he has also appointed Cappi Morgan to the committee. Members will serve for two years.


"We’ve also been working very closely with Larry Wright [Civilian Executive Deputy Commander] and the new Colonel out there," Foster said.


In a press release announcing the new organization, Wright said: "I support the proposed City Ordinance to establish the Military Affairs Committee. This will allow a dedicated focus and support to the Army’s mission, the Governor’s Military Affairs Steering Committee and the Secretary of the Army’s initiative to build a resilient Army-community bond."


The ordinance that established the committee also provided that the committee will receive annual funding on an as-needed basis.


"I’m excited about it but we’ve got a lot of work to do," Foster said.