Future looks secure for U.S. bases

By Dave GooderhamAMERICAN military personnel are set to retain a presence in Suffolk for the foreseeable future after George Bush announced base improvements costing almost $70million.

By Dave Gooderham

AMERICAN military personnel are set to retain a presence in Suffolk for the foreseeable future after George Bush announced base improvements costing almost $70million.

The bulk of the money will be spent at RAF Lakenheath, where more than $50m has been pencilled in for housing, bomb maintenance and storage facilities under President Bush's budget proposals for 2006.

Base officials declined to comment last night on the exact details of the proposals and what the improvements could mean for the future of the RAF Lakenheath base.


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But a senior member of the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) said the plans were a clear sign the area would maintain a military presence.

The proposals - which also include $13.5m for a base engineer complex in Mildenhall - will be presented to Congress next month and scrutinised by both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

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Tom Roberts, EUCOM's legislative affairs specialist, said: “Congress is going to be looking for assurances that the money we're asking for in military construction is going to be spent on things that are going to be around for a while.

“Members of Congress have a constitutional duty to do some fact-finding on budget requests. It's a joint effort - the President submits the bill, but there is no money unless the House and the Senate pass the same bill and the President then gets involved added Congress typically approved the vast majority of the President's military construction requests with the bill normally signed in September.

President Bush has requested $430.3m for 2006 - an increase of more than $30m from the amount Congress approved in this year's budget.

A spokesman for RAF Lakenheath said: “The main purpose of the proposals will be to improve base housing. Under air force-wide plans, we want to replace all inadequate housing in 2009 and Lakenheath is set to do this.”

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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