The lead organization for the Charleston area response to Base Closure and Realignment is the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, which has had a response group at the ready for years to protect installations here.

Mary Graham, a senior vice president at the chamber, said the group has learned a lot since Charleston was hit with the order that the Charleston Naval Base and Shipyard would be closed in the early 1990s.

"What we learned as a community response from 1993 is that once the list (of targeted bases for closure) is out, it is not the time to prepare your community to not lose these bases," she said.

Since then the chamber has been looking for ways to make the Charleston area more attractive to keeping and attracting government military installations and missions.

The last big response was supporting Charleston as a military Joint Base, where oversight of more than 50 scattered commands of all sizes, from the Air Force Base to the Consolidated Brig, is done under one umbrella.

Going ahead, "obviously we're going to gear up" for the thrust of where the administration wants the military to look like after base-cutting, Graham said.

At last count, there were some 22,000 active duty, reserve and civilian jobs in the area connected to the military here with about $4.67 billion in economic impact annually, Graham said. "That is just from the payroll spending in the community," she said.

Additionally, the region boasts more than 80 defense contractor companies, employing thousands of engineers and other highly technically skilled employees.

Some of the area's top-paying jobs are at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic. SPAWAR, a Navy command, makes a huge contribution to the local economy from its Charleston Naval Weapons Station headquarters.

As of late last year the high-tech engineering unit directly employed about 2,300 workers in the Charleston area and indirectly supported two or three times as many jobs at private defense firms.

Charleston also is the center of movement for the Department of Defense's Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles program to war zones of southwest Asia.

Also, South Carolina has a BRAC strategy group that includes representatives from Charleston, Columbia, Sumter and Beaufort.