Rear Adm. Lorge predicts China Lake expansion

News Review Staff Writer

    Navy Region Southwest Commander Rear Adm. Patrick Lorge appeared in Ridgecrest Monday to speak to the China Lake Alliance. In the audience were Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division Commander Rear Adm. Mike Moran and Naval Air Weapons Station Commanding Officer Capt. Richard Wiley.

    Lorge began by crediting China with his start in the Navy. China Lake was Lorge's father was a aviation mechanic and eventual pilot here. "So without China Lake, I would never have embarked upon the journey that I did - because I wanted to follow in my dad's footsteps," he said. "So thank you, to China Lake!"

    As commander of the region, Lorge is responsible for logistics for the China Lake, Coronado, El Centro Fallon, Lemoore, Monterey, Point Loma, San Diego, Seal Beach and Ventura County naval bases.

    Lorge talked to the importance of the Southwest region - particularly China Lake - in regard to the nation's security, as well as the general military growth of the region.

    "The increasing threat from China and the increasing instability in the Pacific," resulted in a "rebalancing of forces" in the military, said Lorge. Sixty percent of United States Armed Forces are now stationed on the Pacific front.

    "Sixty-seven percent of the nation's military training airspace is in the Southwest," he added.

    He remarked that Naval Base San Diego will soon surpass Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia as the world's largest naval installation in terms of military personnel.

    "Ranges like we have out here do not exist on the East Coast, another country or anywhere else. They are here. That is the criticality of China Lake. You should be very proud of what you have here. It is a gem and it is irreplaceable."

    Moran clarified that as the Weapons Station at China Lake has no "operational forces," there is technically no "operational growth." But NAWS continues to play an important role in facilitating the work of other organizations.

    "We're doing pretty good here at the Lake," said Moran. China Lake is "not bigger, per se," Lorge added, "but the mission set will expand."

    Pictured: Rear Adm. Patrick Lorge, commander of Navy Region Southwest, addresses members and guests of China Lake Alliance at a Monday luncheon in Ridgecrest. -- Photos by Laura Austin