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Will There Be Another Round of Base Realignment and Closures?

brac

By Debbie Gregory.

A senior Pentagon official is urging lawmakers to consider a new round of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) saying that the Department of Defense is wasting money on excess facilities. More than 350 installations have been closed in five BRAC rounds: 1988, 1991, 1993, 1995, and 2005.

Officials testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs on military facility and installation funding shortfalls. Across the board, defense and services leaders voiced concerns over reduced funding and the challenges of keeping up with current environmental requirements.

The proposed $1 billion FY 2017 military construction budget is an 18-percent reduction from last year’s budget.

“As Department of Defense leadership has repeatedly testified, spending resources on excess infrastructure does not make sense,” Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said in an April 12 letter. “Therefore, we urge Congress to provide the Department authorization for another round of BRAC. Our recently submitted BRAC legislative proposal responds to congressional concerns regarding cost.”

The letter was made public after Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management said she will not include the authority to conduct a BRAC round in her subcommittee’s mark of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. She said that amid tight DoD budgets, the military cannot afford BRAC, whose costs ballooned 67 percent during the last round, in 2005.

“I do not want to give the department the open-ended authority to pursue another BRAC round that will potentially incur significant upfront costs when we do not have the room in our budget in the next few years to afford many fundamental readiness investments that are right before us,” Ayotte, R-N.H., said in an April 12 hearing.

“This report makes clear that DoD maintains a large amount of infrastructure that it does not need,” Rep. Adam Smith said. “Disposing of excess infrastructure through a transparent, deliberative and independent process, such as another round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), can be done in a responsible manner hat enhances military readiness and frees up funds that can be used to strengthen our military in other ways.”

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Military Connection: More Base Closures?

Base closing

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