Every few years, the military holds a base realignment and closure process, commonly known as BRAC.
In 2005, our region won in the BRAC process when many important military missions were moved to Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG).
For the unfortunate bases that were closed during that BRAC event, it was an unhappy time. The people surrounding Fort Monmouth, New Jersey were devastated by the news of their base’s closure. But Cecil County stepped forward to help allay Ft. Monmouth personnel fears about moving with their jobs. Cecil County was well-represented at relocation fairs in New Jersey and local folks jumped aboard tours of the area to help people see the many great things about our county and region.
This week, APG commanding officer, Major General Randy Taylor, recalled those days of BRAC and commended county leaders for their long-time support of APG.
He said the efforts of regional leaders to reach out to people whose bases were closing, helped bring many new people to the area, assuring the continuity of their important missions.
While many APG employees live in Cecil County, a lot of people probably do not give much thought to the base – other than wondering if the booms they hear are actual ordnance tests or an approaching storm.
But the missions pursued at APG are vital, absolutely vital to the health and success of our military.
In a military world where bases strive to be named Centers of Excellence in one area of expertise, APG is the home to six Centers of Excellence – an amazing accomplishment.
APG is at the center of innovation in all sorts of communication and reconnaissance, research and development for the U.S. Department of Defense, test and evaluation of military equipment, public health science, defending against chemical and biological weapons and personnel security investigations.
APG employs 28,000 people, hiring more than 900 new employees in the past year. They are the sixth largest employer in the state and employ many people from Cecil County. The regional economy is enhanced by $6.5 billion a year because of Aberdeen Proving Ground. The base awards $2.4 billion in contracts to small companies.
APG reaches into the community, holding community events to get people onto the base to understand what they are doing and their importance to the community, state and nation. Personnel are involved in trying to address the opiate addiction issues. APG management works to form bonds with local officials. The base works with schools and school students to promoted science, technology, engineering and math. APG welcomes small companies to come in and use their labs for research.
But we must always remember that APG’s primary value is what they do to help the many brave women and men who are defending our nation.
General Taylor told county officials this week that the U.S. has 187,000 soldiers deployed to 140 countries, many in harm’s way, at this moment in time. APG’s innovation helps keep them safe.