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By Jesse Gipe, manager, economic development
In partnership with more than a dozen organizations across San Diego County including the San Diego Military Advisory Council (SDMAC), EDC has established Operation San Diego, a strategy to support our military and defense assets in the region. As part of these efforts, I had the opportunity to attend the largest gathering of senior military officials ever hosted by the Governor’s Military Council (GMC) earlier this week. The two-day Defense Summit provided military leaders, support organizations, state agencies and elected officials an opportunity to discuss how to address some of the critical needs of bases and the personnel they house.
While in San Diego it can be hard to forget the impact of our military in our day to lives – with a $45 billion impact to our GRP – other areas in California do not share our military concentration. Recognizing the need for a strong voice from California in support of the military, and through efforts led by both SDMAC and EDC, Governor Brown established the GMC. The all-volunteer board members of the GMC form an impressive roster of retired flag officers from every branch of the DoD and Coast Guard. This group of well-respected former military leaders have answered the Governor’s call to serve on the council and lend their collective expertise to ensure that California is proactively supporting the military in DC and at the state level.
Kicking off two days of activities, the GMC hosted their quarterly board meeting attended by Governor Brown on Tuesday. The council, led by Chair Ellen Tauscher, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, discussed the GMC’s strategy to support bases and personnel in California.
After the GMC’s board meeting, nearly 40 active duty commanders and military personnel including some of the state's most senior commanders such as Brigadier General Edward Banta, Commander of Marine Corp Installations West and a strong contingent from Navy Region Southwest flew in to participate in a full day of workshops on Wednesday. In addition to the military leadership approximately 50 individuals from base support organizations such as SDMAC’s Executive Director Randy Bogle and other key agencies like SANDAG were also in attendance.
The workshops were designed to help bases and the communities supporting them identify solutions to address several common issues. These issues primarily revolve around the military’s needs for reliable and secure energy, the impact of the drought on water reliability, the demand for new creative funding partnerships to address budget shortfalls caused in part by sequestration, and of course how to help service members transition back into civilian life.
This message has certainly resonated with Governor Brown, who reiterated the significant role of the military in his remarks to the GMC: “There is a very important connection, because without the defense contracts, the aerospace contracts in California wouldn't be where it is today.” Military bases across California not only continue to provide vital national security missions for the United States; they have been pivotal in the establishment of some of our state's most vibrant industries. Most notably, of course, would be aerospace, but bases like SPAWAR in San Diego have created groundbreaking technologies such as radar, that have helped spur commercial innovation in a wide variety of industries.
Events like this provide unique value for San Diego as we strive to maintain and enhance what has always been one of our region’s critical economic and cultural pillars: the military. EDC will continue to work closely with the GMC, regional partners including SDMAC, the State of California and in Washington DC to make sure that as our region continues to support the military.