BRAC 2005: Commission Begins Work on Next Round of Base Realignments, Closures
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
Commission Chairman Anthony J. Principi, former secretary of veterans affairs, administered the oath of office to the eight commissioners who will evaluate the Defense Department's recommendations for changes in U.S. force posture.
After evaluating DoD's recommendations, the independent BRAC Commission will submit its own list to the president for review and approval, then to Congress, which must accept or reject the list in its entirety.
"The Congress and the president look to this commission to provide an unbiased, independent assessment and clear 'eye of reality check' on DoD's proposals for restructuring the base infrastructure supporting our armed forces," Principi said.
Principi said the commission's work must reflect that while the United States devotes great resources to its defense, those resources are limited. "Every dollar consumed in redundant, unnecessary, obsolete, inappropriately designed or located infrastructure is a dollar not available to provide the training that might save a Marine's life, purchase the munitions to win a soldier's firefight, or fund the advances necessary to ensure continued dominance of the air or the seas."
The commission chairman acknowledged that the BRAC process will affect people. "The words 'closure' and 'realignment' are easy to write on paper," he said, "but they do have profound effects on communities and the people who bring those communities to life. The ripples of the proposals the secretary of defense will present to our nation and to us will be tsunamis in the communities they hit." But no decision on closure or realignment will be arbitrary, he added.
"The Congress, in authorizing the 2005 BRAC, recognized the necessity for cost-effective operation of our armed forces," Principi said. "The Congress, in establishing this commission and in setting forth the standards against which we are charged to measure DoD's proposals, also ensured these decisions would not be made in a vacuum, and that DoD's proposals and their rationale and supporting data would be subject to independent analysis and assessment."
DoD must submit its list of recommended closures and realignments to the commission by May 16, and the commission must send its report to the president by Sept. 8.
The 2005 BRAC commissioners are:
- Former Nevada Rep. James H. Bilbray, who was a member of House committees on foreign affairs, armed services and intelligence. He served in the Army Reserve from 1955 to 1963.
- Philip Coyle of California, a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information. He has served at DoD as an assistant secretary of defense and as director of operational test and evaluation.
- Retired Navy Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr., who served more than 35 years on active duty, including duty as NATO's supreme allied commander, Atlantic, and as commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command.
- Former Utah Rep. James V. Hansen, who served on the House Armed Services Committee. He served in the Navy from 1951 to 1955.
- Retired Army Gen. James T. Hill, whose 36-year career culminated with duty as commander of U.S. Southern Command.
- Retired Air Force Gen. Lloyd "Fig" Newton, who served in uniform for 34 years, culminating as commander of Air Education and Training Command.
- Samuel Knox Skinner, who served as President George H.W. Bush's chief of staff and as secretary of transportation. He served in the Army Reserve from 1960 to 1968.
- Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Sue Ellen Turner of Texas, a member of the American Battle Monuments Commission. She served for 30 years, most recently as the director of nursing services in the Office of the Air Force Surgeon General.
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