Washington Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld predicted Tuesday that a federal commission will endorse "the overwhelming majority" of his proposals to close, shrink or expand hundreds of military bases across the country.
For its part, the nine-member panel has promised not to rubber-stamp the Pentagon chief's plan, and commissioners say changes are likely before they send their final report to President Bush next month.
Previous commissions - in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995 - altered about 15 percent of what the Pentagon proposed as it sought to get rid of bases considered no longer needed. But analysts say it's unclear just how much of Rumsfeld's plan will be changed given the emphasis on homeland security and threats in the post-9-11, era.
The commission plans to start voting today on whether to sign off on each part of Rumsfeld's plan, the first such effort in a decade to reconfigure stateside military bases and the most ambitious by far.
The Pentagon proposed closing or consolidating a record 62 major military bases and 775 smaller installations to save $48.8 billion over 20 years, streamline the services and reposition the armed forces to face current threats.
"I feel that we made very solid recommendations," Rumsfeld said Tuesday. "I suspect the commission, when all is said and done, will endorse the overwhelming majority of those recommendations."