By Debbie Gregory.
Do you remember “BRAC Friday?” That was the name given to mark May 13, 2005, the day the Pentagon released the proposal for the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission. The proposal eventually saw the closure of several military bases across the country, as well as the realignment of several other commands, installations, and areas of authority.
The results of BRAC Friday were supposed to be a reduction of 3.5% of the DOD’s infrastructure, resulting in an estimated $4 billion in annual savings to the defense budget. But the actual results were a cost of over $35 billion to complete the realignment projects.
Of course, lawmakers, service members and taxpayers were not happy with the results of 2005 restructuring. Since 2005, several attempts at additional closures and realignments have been adamantly rejected by Congress, believing the process to be more costly than it’s worth.
In the hopes of getting another round of closures approved, acting-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Installations, John Conger, is of the opinion that the BRAC Friday round of closures and realignments in 2005 was not intended to save money. Conger believes the actions were designed to rebalance the placement of forces on the home front. On March 3, 2015, Conger told members of the House Appropriations committee that the DOD is interested in closing more bases, with the intent of not repeating the same mistakes that were made in 2005.
The Pentagon has estimated that the U.S. military’s infrastructure in the U.S. is at least 25% larger than what is needed to maintain national defense. They believe that reducing the infrastructure by 5% could lower annual upkeep costs by $2 billion across the military.
“We look at the next round as an efficiency-driven one,” Conger told the House Appropriations Committee. “In such a budget environment as we have today, it only makes sense to avoid spending money on excess.”
So far, no names of installations have been officially proposed for closure or realignment. At this time, it is uncertain whether such actions would be approved by Washington, given the high costs of the BRAC Friday closures.
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Military Connection: More Base Closures? By Debbie Gregory