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Nunn proposes long-range economic conversion goals.

Senate Armed Service Chairman Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) last week proposed long range goals to accomodate those in cities and towns affected by the estimated loss of nearly two million Pentagon and private sector defense industry jobs by 1996 from cuts in defense spending.

The Senator suggested that the first step should be to designate a single federal official to coordinate and ensure a program towards commercial placement of military personnel. This would strengthen communities' economic bases and provide for future economic vitality.

These proposals have not yet been drafted into a formal bill, but Nunn said he would require the Department of Defense to assume management of economic adjustment and transition programs for civilian workers and communities affected by closing military installations and reduction of the defense industry.

Between 1991 and 1996 alone, the Defense Budget Project estimated that the overall six-year defense plan projected by the Defense Department last year could have led to the disappearance of as many as 800,000 jobs. The deeper cuts proposed by President Bush and many in Congress this year could lead to greater layoffs in communities and cancellations of defense contracts.

Many community-based economies are expected to be hard hit and have little recovery hope in today's economic recession. The severity can be worse in communities which have yet to become economically diversified, such as Palmdale, Calif. (aircraft); Lima, Ohio (tanks); and Groton/New London, Conn. (submarines).

Nunn proposed to authorize early retirement for military members with 15-20 years of service. This would help reduce defense spending, but, at the same time, avoid laying off current military employees and putting them in unemployment lines in communities.

Nunn said the problem arises when highly trained and top qualified personnel are fired. These individuals are among the best qualified to obtain work outside of military security. It is their quality leadership, teamwork, and professional excellence skills that are needed in our commercial sector to enhance our communities economic base.

It is important not to disrupt our large pool of talent as we reduce the size of the U.S. defense establishment. It will take much planning and careful evaluation to oversee the transition of military personnel to viable commercial sector applicants.

In Nunn's address to the Senate floor, he addressed the problem of employment displacement by focusing on the enormous amount of talent tied to defense occupations.
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Title Annotation:Senator Sam Nunn calls for economic aid to those affected by defense cuts
Author:Barker, Linnea
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 17, 1992
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