By WAYNE CRENSHAW – wcrenshaw@macon.com

Updated February 05, 2012 05:55 AM

WARNER ROBINS — For military communities, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission is kind of like a blind date. It could be awful, but it could also be great.

In previous BRACs, Robins Air Force Base has tended to find itself staring into the eyes of a beauty queen with brains.

From the 1995 BRAC, Robins gained the C-5 mission, which employs hundreds of people today in maintenance, program management and other support areas. In 2005, the base gained a Marine helicopter squadron, a Defense Logistics Agency distribution center and contractor positions, resulting in a net gain of 500 jobs.

But despite the positive history here, base supporters say they would still rather not face a BRAC.

“You are never glad to see another BRAC,” said Mary Therese Tebbe, director of the 21st Partnership. “You would be crazy to want to see a BRAC.”

Whether Robins, and every other base in the Department of Defense, will face a BRAC in the near future is still uncertain.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is recommending a new BRAC for 2013 and another for 2015, but Congress still has to give the OK. Some members, including 8th District U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, whose district includes Robins, have come out in opposition to a new BRAC. He said Friday he does not expect the proposal to make it through the House Armed Services Committee, of which he is a member.

If there is a BRAC, community leaders say Robins is better positioned now than it has been in years past. Key factors the commission would consider, including operational performance, have improved significantly. In 2010, Robins was completing just over half its planes on time, but since Oct. 1, it has finished heavy maintenance on 54 planes, and all have been on time.

Encroachment, which refers to residential homes in an area north of the runways considered at risk for crashes, is well on its way to being resolved.

“We are in a very positive position right now,” said Ron Carbon, who held Tebbe’s job in the 2005 BRAC. “Our base is performing at a peak in the past several years. The entire base, as I can see, is performing well, and our community is improving. We are solving the encroachment issues. We are solving environmental impact on air quality.”

Robins considered for closure in 1995

The BRAC process can be a roller coaster ride because things can change all along the way. The Pentagon makes recommendations on base closures and other major changes, but the commission can do what it wants, then may make changes before the recommendations head to the president for approval. Congress doesn’t have to approve them but can vote them down.

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