By Nate Smith
Washington Times Herald
CRANE — The highest ranking admiral in the U.S. Navy visited NSA Crane on Monday and assured the facility will grow even if the government goes off the fiscal cliff.
Adm. Jon Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations, came to the base with Sen. Dan Coats, Sen.-elect Joe Donnelly and Congressman Todd Young. Indiana Lt. Gov.-elect Sue Ellspermann also joined the tour later.
All three believed there will be a settlement before the cliff is reached by the end of the year.
“I think both Republicans and Democrats indicate that (a deal) is something we want to do,” Coats said. “We want to settle this issue as soon as we can, addressing not only our short-term issue of falling off the cliff but longer term issues of how we do with spending and tax reform.”
Young, who represents Indiana’s Ninth District, said it is not yet known what the impact will be if the cliff is reached.
“That is something a number of us in Congress, specifically on the Armed Services Committee, have pushed on the administration for those specifics,” he said.
Donnelly, who will become Indiana’s junior senator on Jan. 1, said he was more hopeful today than he has been in a long time.
“I think you can see on both sides there’s a desire to get this done,” Donnelly said. “Last week at this time, I think you would have been hard pressed to say this.”
Although Republican leaders met with President Barack Obama privately on Monday, the threat of an additional $500 billion in defense spending looms on the cliff. Greenert said due to Crane’s relevance with its work, any cuts will be minimal.
“The development of work done here resonates with our needs in the Navy,” Greenert said. “It’s not only today but the future. It will hold a high priority to me and my budget.
“It’s so important for right now.”
Ellspermann, who worked helping sell Crane technology to the private sector before election, said the I-69 corridor and the WestGate @ Crane Tech Park will also keep the base highly relevant.
“Be assured that the Navy can count on NSA Crane and Indiana as strong partners to protect our nation and preserve peace and prosperity,” Ellspermann said.
This is the first time a sitting Chief of Naval Operations, a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has visited Crane. He was amazed by the size of the base and how many civilian engineers are needed to maintain the base’s mission of supporting the military.
“You do great recruiting, I can tell you,” Greenert said.
The admiral relayed a story about how he is seeing Crane technology at work, in weapons for special forces to enhanced radar for cruisers.
“I’ve been in my job now for 14 months and one of the things I have learned is we have to know better the electromagnetic spectrum and the elements of electronic warfare that are associated with that,” Greenert said. “They get it here at Crane, Indiana.”
Among the unclassified items the admiral saw were weapon systems, battery components and special optics. He also saw a deployable and portable air control system the Marines are using to create an airport if needed anywhere in the world.
Also on display were high-speed cameras Marines can use to search high-density areas, like urban warfare areas. In one instance, those cameras were attached to a .50-caliber machine gun and a remote control, allowing someone to fire on a target from miles away if needed.
Coats invited the admiral to Crane during a hearing earlier this year.
“I’ve been dying to get here and I finally made it today,” Greenert said.
Greenert also met with members of the military that work on the base. He spoke with them before heading out in a helicopter to continue his tour of Navy facilities in the Midwest.