Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry pass the San Diego waterfront July 26. The Defense Department spent an estimated $25.2 billion in San Diego in 2017, according to SDMAC’s annual economic impact study. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Sailors aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Harpers Ferry pass the San Diego waterfront July 26. The Defense Department spent an estimated $25.2 billion in San Diego in 2017, according to SDMAC’s annual economic impact study. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

The San Diego Military Advisory Council has become a role model.

Officials interested in the futures of military bases around the state have discussed creating an organization modeled after the nonprofit San Diego group, known for short as SDMAC. In its 14 years, SDMAC has become a hub for local business, political and military leaders.

Planning for a similar California group is in the early stages and crucial details — such as how the group would be funded — have yet to be determined, said Randy Bogle, outgoing executive director at SDMAC.

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Randy Bogle, outgoing executive director of SDMAC, stands at left in his office with Mark Balmert, his successor, in September.

2016 SDMAC Revenue: $365,871

Membership meetings, membership dues, an economic impact study and fundraising events gave SDMAC the bulk of its $365,871 in revenue in 2016, the nonprofit said in its federal tax filing.

Officials attending meetings with the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Defense Communities and the Sacramento-based Governor’s Military Council expressed interest in creating something like SDMAC to advocate on behalf of the military in California, said Bogle and Mark Balmert, who will take over as SDMAC’s executive director on Oct. 1.

$25.2 Billion in Direct Spending

Documenting the Pentagon’s economic impact in detail is a major part of what SDMAC does. While contractors such as General Dynamics NASSCO and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. fabricate big-ticket hardware for the military, purchases actually accounted for about 37 percent of the Defense Department’s $25.2 billion in direct spending in the San Diego County in 2017. The U.S. military created and sustained some 338,000 jobs in the county that year, according to an annual study commissioned by SDMAC and produced by economists at Point Loma Nazarene University. Corporate donations help pay for the study.

The economic story is part of a wider mission of telling the military’s story to a civilian and civic audience in San Diego, Bogle said in an interview Sept. 18, prior to his retirement. Frequently military leaders can’t speak directly about issues of concern, such as the encroachment of commercial or residential development on military bases.

Both Bogle and Balmert said military training ranges and other facilities are “fragile” because of demands placed on them by other stakeholders in the community.

SPAWAR’S Future

A looming local issue is the future of the Navy’s information technology command, SPAWAR, short for Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. The command’s headquarters building, a former World War II aircraft factory next to San Diego International Airport, will need to be replaced soon. If SPAWAR can’t find a new space in San Diego, it might decide to move its headquarters to Charleston, South Carolina, Bogle said. Charleston is home to another SPAWAR facility.

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