Blue Angels, Military Outreach Back On
But public events return at 45% of prior level
(SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE 19 OCT 13) … Jeanette Steele
The Pentagon on Friday said it will reinstate the Navy’s Blue Angels and Air
Force Thunderbirds flying teams, port visits, service weeks and band
appearances, but at 45 percent of what the public outreach effort used to be.
The reduction will save $104 million in the current fiscal year, according to a
Defense Department release. Many of these activities were canceled entirely in
the prior fiscal year due to federal budget cuts known as sequestration.
The Navy will return the Blue Angels and the Leap Frogs parachute team to their
full schedules, said Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, a Navy spokeswoman at the
Also back on the Navy calendar: Fleet Weeks in San Francisco, New York, Seattle,
Portland and Port Everglades, Fla. Also approved are Navy Weeks in Baltimore,
Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Omaha, Dallas and Mobile, Ala.
Navy ships will make outreach port visits in Baltimore, Mobile, New Orleans,
Tampa, Savannah, New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Camden, Maine.
Navy band tours and performances are also back on.
“We’ll be able to execute community relations in a way that ensures Americans,
outside of fleet concentration areas, have the opportunity to see and connect
with the Navy,” Hillson said.
What does the Pentagon’s announcement mean for the Miramar Air Show, canceled
abruptly this month due to the federal government shutdown? No word yet. A
Marine Corps spokeswoman late Friday said that five air shows have been approved
but she wasn’t able to provide specifics.
“We look forward again to have the opportunity to interact with our neighbors on
and off our installations with these approved outreach events and give back to
the American people for their continued support,” said Capt. Maureen Krebs, a
spokeswoman at Marine Corps headquarters.
Narrowly avoiding the air show’s fate, San Diego Fleet Week was held last month,
but with a slimmed down schedule that did not include a traditional open house
featuring ships from San Diego Naval Base. The public was able to tour the
aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan because it was in port during the Speedfest event
at North Island Naval Air Station.
San Diego is noticeably absent from the Navy’s new Fleet Week list. This region
is considered a “fleet concentration area.”
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel outlined the Pentagon’s new approach to community
outreach in an internal memo to the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force and
Marines and other military leaders, according to released information.
“It is unfortunate that sequestration restrictions have kept us from connecting
with nearly a half-billion people worldwide over the last six months, and
required us to withdraw support from more than 2,800 events throughout the
country,” the secretary wrote.
The full list of what’s being reinstated at a reduced level: jet and parachute
demonstration teams, band and ceremonial unit appearances, port visits, service
weeks, and nonprofit and corporate leader outreach.