California officials need to step up their support for military missions in the state by strengthening ties with installations and their host communities, according to a report the Governor’s Military Council released last week.
Beyond committing to a sustained focus on California’s 30-plus installations, the state also should focus support to related national security activities, including the aerospace industry, defense contractors, federal laboratories and homeland security missions. DOD spends about $70 billion annually in California and employs 360,000 Californians throughout the state.
“California plays an essential role in our national defense,” said Ellen Tauscher, chair of the council. “Our military’s most important testing and training ranges are located here and as defense strategy shifts to the Pacific Region and embraces new technologies, California has become more important than ever to national security,” said Tauscher, a former congresswoman and undersecretary of State.
A number of the report’s 15 recommendations stress the need for greater engagement by the state at the local level, including strengthening support for local and regional military support organizations. Similarly, the state should cultivate direct relationships with installation commanders. The state also should work closely with installations to address challenges such as encroachment, regulatory requirements, workforce supply, and energy and water availability.
The council also said the state needs to reverse a perception that it is unfriendly or indifferent to military operations. The state has established a variety of incentives to bolster California’s defense and aerospace industry but “much still needs to be done,” according to the report. One way the state could build its reputation as a state that champions the presence of the military would be to highlight examples of strong community support for local installations.
The report’s other recommendations include:
- engage federal decision-makers to shape defense budget and policy proposals;
- partner with other states to strengthen integration of the Southwest defense testing and training complex;
- bolster support for the aerospace industry;
- maintain bipartisan support in California’s national security mission;
- encourage military installations to partner with local governments and companies to reduce operational costs;
- strengthen incentives for veterans and separating service members to stay in California;
- assist military installations to expand renewable energy and other shared energy priorities; and
- help military installations secure reliable water supplies amidst drought and climate change.