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Letter to Robert Gates, United States Secretary of Defense

Letter to Robert Gates, United States Secretary of Defense

Chambliss Leads Effort To Secure Military Command Site For Georgia

U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee is leading an effort to urge the U.S. Department of Defense to consider the State of Georgia as the location for the recently activated United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) Headquarters. In a bipartisan letter sent this week to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Chambliss, Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, and members of Georgia's Congressional Delegation in the House underscored the advantages Georgia has to offer in hosting this new command.

On August 25, 2008, Chambliss, along with Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, sent a similar letter to Secretary Gates.

The text of the letter sent this week is below:

October 30, 2008

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000

Dear Secretary Gates:

As you are well aware, the Department of Defense is considering several locations in the Continental United States (CONUS) as headquarters for Africa Command (AFRICOM). The Governor and members of the Georgia Delegation have previously written you regarding the potential use of Forts McPherson and Gillem for the AFRICOM Headquarters. While we understand that these installations are still under consideration, we also understand that Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta is also being considered. In addition to the reasons previously stated for locating AFRICOM at either Fort McPherson or Fort Gillem, we would like to take this opportunity to explain why Dobbins would also be an attractive location.

Dobbins has a substantial runway network as well as rail infrastructure that connects it with the Port of Savannah -- already a point of shipment for a significant amount of cargo bound for Africa. Further, given that the facilities in Marietta are presently shared by Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Naval Air Station Atlanta, the Georgia National Guard, and Lockheed Martin, they have long been a model for joint-ness within the Department of Defense, an important and unique characteristic given that AFRICOM will be a joint command and require coordination with many international partners and across numerous government agencies. With 52 acres of available property adjoining the base, any needed expansion of existing or construction of new facilities would also be unencumbered.

Whether you choose Dobbins, Fort McPherson or Fort Gillem, Georgia provides a compelling location for the AFRICOM facility. Each is in close proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Being the world's busiest airport there is frequent and direct access to the African continent. With one of the nation's highest concentrations of Fortune 500 companies and Non-Governmental Organizations, coupled with a very low cost of doing business, the greater Atlanta area is uniquely qualified to accommodate additional consulates and businesses that may be necessary if such an important command is established.

Thank you for your attention to this critical issue and for your leadership of the Department of Defense. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further with you at any time. Please know that we share your commitment to ensuring the success of our brave men and women in uniform, as well as the safety and security of the American people.

Very truly yours,

Saxby Chambliss
Sonny Perdue
Johnny Isakson
Phil Gingrey
Tom Price
David Scott
Jim Marshall
John Linder
Hank Johnson
Lynn Westmoreland
Sanford Bishop
Nathan Deal
Jack Kingston
Paul C. Broun

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