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Brunswick woman named to defense group
A Brunswick woman has been appointed to the executive committee of the newly created Governor's Defense Initiative.

Sheila McNeill, former national Navy League president, said her focus on Gov. Nathan Deal's committee will be the Navy, Coast Guard and Marines.

McNeill and other members of the governor's committee are tasked with finding ways to better support the three Army bases, two Air Force bases, a Navy base and a Marine base in Georgia.

The bases generate an estimated $20 billion in annual economic impact, including salaries, contracts and revenue generated.

In addition, McNeill said the committee wants to "increase the footprint" for defense contractors in Georgia. Eight of the top 10 largest defense contractors in the nation have operations in Georgia.

McNeill said she is researching the job of every unit on the bases she is responsible for to determine what everyone does and the importance of their duties.

"I've already talked with the Navy and Coast Guard," McNeill said.

The initiative will be operated through the Georgia Department of Economic Development. It will be spearheaded by William L. Ball, former Secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan.

T. Rogers Wade, former president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, will be new director of the initiative.

Deal said the intent is to look at development opportunities at military bases and surrounding communities in the state.

"Georgia's dynamic military community is a fountainhead of economic activity and skilled talent for the state," Deal said. "We are very fortunate to have someone like (Ball), with deep roots in the defense industry."

It's no coincidence the executive committee was appointed in anticipation of an upcoming Base Closure and Realignment Commission. The commission is expected to convene in 2015 to decide the fate of military bases throughout the nation.

McNeill said BRAC was one of the "driving forces" the governor considered when executive committee members were appointed. She said the intent is for the committee to continue after the next round of base realignment hearings to protect military bases in the state.

Glynn County is sandwiched between two major military bases - Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Camden County and Fort Stewart in Liberty County.

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