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Marine Corps To Reduce Presence In San Diego, Councilman Says

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The Marine Corps expects to reduce its presence in San Diego County by about 6,000 active-duty personnel and 7,800 family members over the next few years, a San Diego City Council member said Wednesday.

The comment by Councilman Mark Kersey came during a presentation to the panel's Rules and Economic Development Committee on the military's economic impact on the region.

Kersey said he met with Gen. James Amos, the Marine Corps commandant, during a recent visit to Washington, D.C., that was led by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Amos wasn't worried about future base closures, but said attrition and slower recruiting was going to result in lowered numbers in San Diego, according to the councilman. The reductions would come even as the military turns its focus towards the Pacific Rim.

"Obviously, the impact of these cuts is going to be severe, in the hundreds of millions of dollars over the next decade,'' Kersey said.

Earl Wederbrook, president of the San Diego Military Advisory Council, which presented the economic impact report, told the committee members that other cities were pressing the Pentagon to move various facilities out of San Diego.

The "lively and aggressive campaigns'' are targeting the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command -- known as SPAWAR, among other local assets, Wederbrook said.

Military personnel, however, want to remain in San Diego, said Wederbrook and SDMAC Executive Director Larry Blumberg.

"The Navy and Marine Corps know where they want to be, and this is it,'' Blumberg said.

Amos backed up that point during their conversation, Kersey said.

Blumberg said his biggest concern is political tradeoffs that could result in relocations.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer, a mayoral candidate, said the city will have to continue fighting for bases to remain here.

"When we're trying to fight to keep what we have, but also to continue to have additional investments, it's important for the city to stand up and say we support the military,'' Faulconer said.

Councilman David Alvarez, another mayoral candidate on the committee, said area officials have to "continue telling the story of San Diego'' to military and political leaders.

The economic impact report itself was released about two weeks ago.

Among other things, it found that 22 percent of local jobs had direct or indirect ties to the military.

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