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Editorial: Case for sustaining Atterbury vital, solid

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WELL-executed game plans backed up by provable data are central to any successful venture.

That’s why state and local officials have an early advantage in convincing the U.S. Department of Defense to keep the Atterbury military installation and its sister facility, the Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations, in its plans for the future.

As the United States involvement in the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan winds down, Pentagon authorities are planning sharp reductions in forces and facilities. Several bases likely will be closed, and training missions will be severely reduced.

Indiana legislators at the national, state and local levels already have begun developing arguments for not only retaining the roles of the two training facilities in Pentagon plans but expanding their missions by making them adaptable for other uses.

They already have in hand some impressive data that attest to the enormous effect the facilities have on the economies of the surrounding communities.

That information was contained in a recent Indiana University study that pointed to an infusion of approximately $400 million per year into the counties touched by both bases.

The study measured how much the post spent last year on utilities, supplies, services and construction projects.

Researchers also calculated how soldiers spend their salaries, and how that money ripples through the community and goes to support local businesses.

According to the IU researchers, Atterbury and Muscatatuck contributed $10 million in income, sales and other taxes to local governments last year and were responsible for creating more than 4,700 jobs, which mostly paid salaries and benefits higher than the state average.

For comparison purposes, the researchers noted that the post contributed about $75 million more to the economy than Indianapolis’ Super Bowl did last year.

The effort to keep the bases open is not based only on the effect they have had but on their potential for future adaptations to meet a variety of needs.

Modernization programs of recent years have diversified their uses for both the military and civilian contractors, and they provide low-cost assets for such purposes as joint training exercises and command level meetings and conferences.

Indiana’s entire congressional delegation has been mobilized for the sales effort, an undertaking that is vital not just to south-central Indiana but the entire state.

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