Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC)
In July 2001, the Department of Defense announced an Efficient Facilities Initiative (EFI). This consolidation was projected to save an estimated $3.5 billion annually. EFI will enable the US military to match facilities to forces. EFI ensures the primacy of military value in making decisions on facilities and harnesses the strength and creativity of the private sector by creating partnerships with local communities. All military installations will be reviewed, and recommendations will be based on the military value of the facilities and the structure of the force. The EFI will encourage a cooperative effort between the President, the Congress, and the military and local communities to achieve the most effective and efficient base structure for America's Armed Forces. It will give local communities a significant role in determining the future use of facilities in their area by transferring closed installations to local redevelopers at no cost (provided that proceeds are reinvested) and by creating partnerships with local communities to own, operate, or maintain those installations that remain.
In mid-December 2001 House and Senate negotiators authorized a new round of military base closings, but delayed any action until 2005. While the Bush administration and the Senate had wanted the base-closing process to begin in 2003, the House had been opposed. Under the compromise plan, the Secretary of Defense will submit a force structure plan and facility inventory, with a certification that proposed closings were justified by the force structure plan and and that they would produce net savings. The closings would also consider environmental costs and community impact. Seven of the nine commission members could vote to add bases to the Pentagon's proposed closure list, but a simple majority would suffice to drop bases from the closure plan. The Bush administration has estimated that 20 percent to 25 percent of military bases are surplus, and that the Pentagon could save $3 billion a year by eliminating surplus facilities.
In August 2002 Phil Grone, principal assistant deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and the environment, estimated the next round of base closures in 2005 could save $6 billion a year, even if it cut only 12 percent of DoD's military infrastructure. One 1998 study suggested that 20 to 25 percent of the military's infrastructure could be considered surplus. Grone indicated that an analysis to "shed excess capacity" would be completed in 2004, before the Pentagon decided how many bases must be closed in the 2005 BRAC round.
On January 6, 2004, the Department of Defense announced that it had requested commanders of installations in the United States, territories and possessions to gather information about their installations as part of the 2005 round of BRAC. All installations are to participate in these calls, and every base and military installation in the United States are doing internal assessments of their operations, land, personnel, and facilities. While none of the questions or data associated with the questions will be released to the public prior to the department's recommendations being forwarded to the independent Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and with all questions and data to be publicly available once the Commission receives them.
The nine members named to serve on the 2005 BRAC Commission will be submitted by the President and congressional leaders for Senate confirmation in March, 2005. In May, 2005, the Department of Defense will submit to the BRAC Commission and the Congressional Defense Committees a list of bases that the Department has selected for closure or realignment. Communities across the nation with a military installation are gearing up for BRAC 2005.
The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process had its origins in the 1960s. Understanding that the Department of Defense (DOD) had to reduce its base structure that had been created during World War II and the Korean War, President John F. Kennedy directed Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara to develop and implement an extensive base realignment and closure program to adjust to the realities of the 1960s. The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) subsequently established the criteria to govern the selection of bases without consulting Congress or the military. Under McNamara's guidance DOD closed sixty bases early in the 1960s without Congress or other government agencies being involved.
In view of the political and economic ramifications of the closures, Congress decided that it had to be involved in the process and passed legislation in 1965 that required DOD to report any base closure programs to it. However, President Lyndon B. Johnson vetoed the bill. This permitted DOD to continue realigning and closing bases without congressional oversight throughout the rest of the 1960s.
Economic and political pressures eventually forced Congress to intervene in the process of realigning and closing bases and to end DOD's independence on the matter. On 1 August 1977 President Jimmy Carter approved Public Law 95-82. It required DOD to notify Congress when a base was a candidate for reduction or closure; to prepare studies on the strategic, environmental, and local economic consequences of such action; and to wait sixty days for a congressional response. Codified as Section 2687, Title 10, United States Code, the legislation along with the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) permitted Congress to thwart any DOD proposals to initiate base realignment and closure studies unilaterally by refusing to approve them and gave it an integral role in the process.
As economic pressures mounted, the drive to realign and close military installations intensified. In 1983 the President's Private Sector Survey on Cost Control (the Grace Commission) concluded in its report that economies could be made in base structure and simultaneously recommended the creation of a nonpartisan, independent commission to study base realignment and closure. Although nothing came of this recommendation, the defense budget that had been declining since 1985 and that was predicted to continue to decrease in coming years prompted the Secretary of Defense to take decisive action.
In 1988 the Secretary of Defense recognized the requirement to close excess bases to save money and therefore chartered the Commission on Base Realignment and Closure in 1988 to recommend military bases within the United States for realignment and closure.
Congress has enacted two laws since 1988 that provide for the closure, in part or in whole, and the realignment of facilities. Since 1988, there have been four successive bipartisan Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commissions (BRAC) that recommended the closure of 125 major military facilities and 225 minor military bases and installations, and the realignment in operations and functions of 145 others. By another accounting, the four BRAC rounds achieved 97 base closings and 55 major realignments. This resulted in net savings to taxpayers of over $16 billion through 2001, and over $6 billion in additional savings annually.
The principal mechanism for implementing the policy in both statues has been an independent, bipartisan commission. Two of the most pressing issues are providing assistance to local communities economically impacted by base closures and establishing a cost-effective program of environmental clean-up at bases prior to their disposition.
During the decade of the 1980's, no major military bases were closed, largely because of procedural requirements established by Congress. After several legislative efforts to break the deadlock failed, Congress introduced a new base closure procedure in P.L. 100-526, enacted October 24, 1988. The original base-closing law was designed to minimize political interference. The statute established a bipartisan commission to make recommendations to Congress and the Secretary of Defense on closures and realignments. Lawmakers had to accept or reject the commission´s report in its entirety. On December 28, 1988, the commission issued its report, recommending closure of 86 installations, partial closure of 5, and realignment of 54 others. The Secretary of Defense approved its recommendation on January 5, 1989.
Since the commission approach adopted by Congress was successful, new base closure legislation was introduced which also relied on the services of an independent commission. Congress refined the process in 1990 with another law (PL 101-510) that charged the Defense Department with drawing up an initial list of bases for consideration by the commission. This commission, in accordance with a statutory provision, met in 1991, 1993, and 1995. The Defense Base Closure and Realignment of 1990 (1990 Base Closure Act), Public Law 101-510 established the process by which Department of Defense (DOD) installations would be closed and/or realigned.
From 1989 to 1997, the Department of Defense reduced total active duty military end strength by 32 percent, and that figure will grow to 36 percent by 2003 as a result of the 1997 Quadrennial Defense Review [QDR]. After four base closing rounds, only 21 percent of the military installations in the continental United States have been reduced. By 1997 the Department of Defense had already reduced its overseas base structure by almost 60 percent. Before the first base closure round, there were approximately 500 domestic military bases. When all of the bases from the first four BRAC rounds are closed, there will be about 400 bases. Ninety-seven major bases have been closed in the United States. The overseas basing structure has been further reduced, ceasing operations at over 960 facilities. The Army in Europe alone has closed the equivalent of 12 United States major maneuver bases.
The 1997 QDR concluded that additional infrastructure savings were required to begin to reduce the share of the defense budget devoted to infrastructure. Retaining excess base infrastructure is unnecessary with a smaller military force, and wastes scarce defense resources that are essential to future military modernization. Base closings are an integral part of this plan. The QDR found that the Department has enough excess base structure to warrant two additional rounds of BRAC, similar in scale to 1993 and 1995. The Department estimated that two additional base closure rounds would result in savings of approximately $2.7 billion annually.
The BRAC 1995 commission recommended that the Congress authorize another Base Closure Commission for the year 2001, giving military services time to complete the current closures in an orderly fashion. Implementing the BRAC actions in the first four rounds would result in $23 billion in one-time implementation costs, offset by savings of $36.5 billion, for a total net savings of $13.5 billion between 1990 and 2001 when the implementation of the first four rounds was supposed to be concluded. DOD has not included the total cost of environmental cleanup beyond 2001 in the net savings figures. Approximately half the savings which DOD assumes will come from BRAC during the implementation are due to assumed savings in operation and maintenance costs. Much of those assumed savings are due to reductions in civilian personnel.
Under the BRAC process, the Secretary of Defense makes recommendations to a commission, nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate. The commission, after being confirmed by the Senate, reviews these recommendations and makes their own recommendations to the President. The President then reviews the recommendation, either sends those back to the commission for additional work or forwards them, without changes, to the Congress, and then the recommendations of the commission go into effect unless disapproved by a joint resolution of the Congress.
In 1995 the BRAC commission recommended closing two maintenance depots - McClellan Air Logistics Center near Sacramento, CA, and Kelly Air Logistics Center in San Antonio, TX. As an alternative to shutting the depots in the two politically powerful states, President Bill Clinton proposed having private contractors take over maintenance work at the sites. The 1995 Base Closure Commission did not recommend or authorize `privatization-in-place' at Kelly or McClellan. Concern was raised about the integrity of the BRAC process in light of this attempt to privatize-in-place the work at the Air Logistics Centers at Kelly Air Force Base in Texas and McClellan Air Force Base in California. Republicans charged that Clinton could not be trusted to respect the apolitical nature of the process.
Following Clinton´s action, lawmakers did not agree until 2001 to schedule another round of base closings. Before it was resolved, the dispute held up a conference agreement on the fiscal 2002 defense authorization bill (PL 107-107) and led Bush to threaten to veto the bill if it did not allow a new round in 2005.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee in July 2001 that the Pentagon maintained 25 percent more facilities than it needs, even after four rounds of base closings in the 1990s. By some accounts, the excess military bases annually cost taxpayers an estimated $3.5 billion.
The armed services are focusing on improvement of installation operations, and the OSD are examining efficiencies that could be obtained by such actions as consolidation of functions on installations, regionalization of support, base realignments and closures, and creation of joint installations where facilities are shared by active forces, National Guard, and Reserve components of all the services. At the installation level, better understanding of what facilities (and their condition) exist on an installation permits more efficient use of the space that is available, and is a first step for any base planning. The Army and the Navy have been using procedures that permit them to lease unneeded facilities on their installations to neighboring communities or commercial organizations. In turn, the lessee provides some form of in-kind support to the installation (e.g. construction or operation of a needed facility) or payment to the government.
Transformation of the force structure and the return of forces from overseas to the United States will require full analysis of space availability at installations, and forecasts of not only what will be needed for the current force structures, but also for force structures that involve units and weapons systems still on the drawing boards. In forming the Army IMA and the Navy CNI, regional offices were established to coordinate the activities of installations within the regions and to determine where analysis indicates efficiencies of any kind can be generated by combining regional activities such as contracting, cross-leveling of assets, etc.
The increased use of National Guard and Reserve components during the Iraq War has pointed out the close links between the installation needs of the Guard and Reserve and the active force and has opened the question of how best to provide support for these units in the future.
Some have indicated that BRAC 2005 and concurrent OSD guidance could eventually lead to consolidation of or joint operation of military facilities in areas where there are numerous separate activities. These range from consolidation of contiguous facilities such as Pope Air Force Base, NC and Fort Bragg, NC, to joint control over the numerous military facilities in such areas as Tidewater Virginia. Actions resulting from BRAC can be expected to place a major burden on the services and installations to deal rapidly with the recommendations of the BRAC Commission and to develop well-substantiated, GIS-based plans in response.
- March 15: President Bush to name members of the fifth Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission.
- May 16: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to give the BRAC commission and Congress the Pentagon's recommendations for military facilities that should be closed.
- Sept. 8: BRAC commission to make its own base closure recommendations.
- Sept. 23: Presidential decision on whether to accept or reject the BRAC recommendations in their entirety - the White House's only options. If Bush accepts the plan, it becomes final within 45 legislative days, unless Congress passes a joint resolution to block the entire package.
- Oct. 20: If Bush rejects the BRAC recommendations, the commission has until this date to submit a revised list of proposed closures.
- Nov. 7: President to approve or disapprove the revised recommendations.
- April 15, 2006: The commission terminates
- Anthony J. Principi, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs (2001-2005)
- James H. Bilbray, a former Democratic House member from Nevada (1987-95)
- Philip Coyle of California, a former assistant secretary of Defense
- Ret. Adm. Harold W. Gehman of Virginia, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander
- James V. Hansen of Utah, a former Republican House member (1981-2003)
- Ret. Army Gen. James T. Hill of Florida
- Ret. Army Lt. General Claude M. Kicklighter of Georgia
- Samuel Knox Skinner of Illinois, a former Secretary of Transportation
- Ret. Air Force Brigadier General Sue Ellen Turner of Texas
- ***NOTE - Commissioners have not been approved by the Senate yet
|DoD RECOMMENDATIONS REJECTED BY PREVIOUS COMMISSIONS|
|Because the 1988 Commission was the sole authority for recommending closure and realignments to the Secretary of Defense there were no recommendations made that were not accepted by the Secretary of Defense.|
|Installation||Recommended Action||Commission Action|
|Fort McClellan, AL||Close||Open|
|Fort Dix, NJ||Close||Realign|
|Fort Chaffee, AR||Close||Realign|
|Army Corps of Engineers||None||Realign|
|Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, WA||Close||Open|
|Naval Training Center Orlando, FL||Close||Open|
|RDT&E & Fleet Support Activities||Close 10/Realign 16||Close 7/Realign 17|
|Moody AFB, GA||Close||Open|
|Fort McClellan, AL||Close||Open|
|Letterkenny Army Depot, PA||Realign||Open|
|Presidio of Monterey Annex, CA||None||Realign|
|Changes to Previously Approved 88/91 Recommendations Affecting Army|
|Presidio of San Francisco, CA||Send 6th Army to||Keep 6th Army at|
|Ft Carson||Presidio of SF|
|Letterkenny Army Depot, PA||Send functions to||Realign|
|Rock Island||Keep Functions|
|Naval Air Station Agana, Guam||None||Close|
|Naval Air Facility Martinsburg, WV||None||Close|
|Naval Air Facility Johnstown, PA||None||Close|
|Naval Hospital, Charleston, SC||Close||Open|
|Naval Air Station Meridian, MS||Close||Open|
|Naval Air Station South Weymouth, MA||Close||Open|
|Naval Supply Center Charleston, SC||Disestablish||Realign|
|Naval Supply Center Oakland, CA||Close||Open|
|Naval Submarine Base New London, CA||Realign||Open|
|Aviation Supply Office, PA||Close||Open|
|Naval Air Technical Services Facility,||Close||Open|
|Naval Electronic Security||Disestablish||Open|
|Systems Engineering Center, Charleston, SC|
|Naval Electronic Systems||Receive||Close|
|Engineering Center, Portsmouth,VA|
|Naval Surface Warfare Center-Carderock,||Disestablish||Open|
|Annapolis Detachment, Annapolis, MD|
|Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center,||None||Close|
|Naval Reserve Center, Chicopee, MA||None||Close|
|Naval Reserve Center, Quincy, MA||None||Close|
|Changes to Previously Approved BRAC 88/91 Recommendations|
|Marine Corps Air Station, Tustin, CA||None||Realign|
|Plattsburgh AFB, NY||None||Close|
|Homestead AFB, FL||Close||Realign|
|McGuire AFB, NJ||Realign||Open|
|Changes to Previously Approved BRAC 88/91 Recommendations|
|Bergstrom AFB, TX||Redirect||Open|
|Defense Logistics Agency|
|Defense Industrial Supply Center, PA||Relocate||Open|
|Defense Reutilization & Marketing Service, MI||Disestablish||Open|