ROCKAWAY TOWNSHIP – Part of Donald Trump’s border wall was going to run through Picatinny Arsenal.
But an admirable coalition of military and political leaders stopped it and that was cause for a celebration of sorts today.
Reps. Mikie Sherrill and Donald Norcross visited the sprawling, Morris County base to tour an under construction munitions disassembly complex that broke ground in March.
There’s more to this story than immediately meets the eye.
With Congress refusing to fund the wall – yes, this is the one for which Mexico was supposed to pay – the president said he would take money from the military budget to do the job. On the chopping block, or in government-speak, slated to be “repurposed,” was about $40 million for Picatinny’s disassembly complex.
That prompted much anxiety among base officials and the state’s federal representatives. In short, the construction schedule was accelerated and with Picatinny showing that the complex was on its way to being built, the base was able to keep the funds.
Norcross had this episode in mind when he said that if the state’s delegation didn’t stick together, “This (the project) would have been turned into a wall on our southern border.”
Norcross, whose First congressional district is at the opposite end of the state from Picatinny, was on hand today because he chairs the Tactical Air and Land Force subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee.
The new complex, as the name suggests, is designed to disassemble weapons found on the battlefield, especially those of the enemy. Sherrill. who served in the Navy as a helicopter pilot, said this could be invaluable.
Picatinny has been around since the late nineteenth century, but its future always seems to be uncertain. More than once recently, it has successfully fought efforts to close it down.
Sherrill said she’s encouraged by the widespread support for Picatinny among the state’s delegation. Nor does it hurt, she said, that there are three New Jersey members on the House Armed Services Committee – Norcross, herself and Andy Kim.
Optimistically looking ahead, Sherrill said, “Picatinny is critical to the modernization effect of our army.”