WASHINGTON -- In April, someone stole machines used to make military identification cards from an Army building in Washington. In May, it was plastic explosives and land mines from a Navy base in California.
While American military posts overseas get the lion's share of the attention and money to fight off possible terrorist attacks, officials are taking a closer look at how secure stateside bases are as well.
Commanders from coast to coast say they need more people and money to protect troops and their families from what some believe is an inevitable attack on U.S. soil.
"In the battle for anti-terrorism dollars, it is difficult for stateside bases to compete," said Brig. Gen. Thomas P. Kane of the 60th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base in California.
"We can't afford to sit on our hands and wait to see if one of our domestic bases is attacked, and then face the issue," said Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
"Numerous potential vulnerabilities" at U.S. bases have been found in a General Accounting Office study commissioned by the committee's Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism and due to be completed this summer, lawmakers said.
At a recent closed-door session, GAO researchers reportedly told panel members preliminarily that most of the problems could be fixed without more money, but rather with changes in how troops operate.
The study was requested after October's bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, an attack that killed 17 sailors and nearly sunk the warship.
The GAO, Congress' investigative arm, studied 11 American bases, most city-like places that house many thousands of people and include schools, hospitals, weapons storage facilities, training ranges and so on.
Kane, appearing with commanders from four such bases, told the oversight panel last week that much already has been done.
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