Lackland Battlelab Considered for Closure

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A Lackland Air Force Base lab which works to improve the safety of troops is under threat of closing by fall.

Air Force budget plans outline closing the Force Protection Battlelab at Lackland and doing away with its 23 jobs by fiscal 2008. It's one of seven similar labs targeted by the Air Force as it tries to reduce costs.

Battlelab commander, Colonel Bob Tirevold says the proposal isn't final until the budget is approved.

The former commander of the Air Force Security Forces Center at Lackland, retired Brigadier Gen. Ronald Coleman, thinks the lab is needed more than ever. He called the possible closure "penny-wise and pound-foolish."

Later this month, the lab plans to test "Arctic Fire," a flame-retardant gel that appears promising in preventing burns.

Analysts say Air Force leaders don't have much choice since neither President Bush nor Congress has provided money to fund manpower needs and recapitalize equipment.