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.”