BRAC 2005: Process Sets Stage for Future Infrastructure
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
Officials said this is the best chance the department will have to reset the force to meet the challenges of the 21st century. "We don't know where the next threat will come from, but we know one will come, and we must be ready," said a senior DoD official.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's recommendations for base closure and realignment are due to the nine-member BRAC commission "not later than" May 16.
The BRAC process will allow DoD to "rationalize" its infrastructure to match what planners believe will be the force structure for the future, said Michael W. Wynne, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, during a Pentagon briefing. The changes, he said, will allow DoD to put in place the infrastructure needed to continue the transformation process.
"We tried to think about how to maximize joint utilization," Wynne said. This will allow the services to better share resources and improve efficiency, he said. It will also allow the services to facilitate joint operations and joint training.
Finally, the process will "convert waste to warfighting," Wynne said, noting that resources now devoted to maintaining capabilities no longer needed take money away "from the tip of the spear."
Philip W. Grone, deputy undersecretary for installations and environment, agreed with Wynne's assessment. In the four previous BRAC rounds - 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995 - the department went through 97 major closings, 55 major restructurings and 235 "minor actions." The net savings through fiscal 2001 was about $18 billion. The yearly saving since 2001 is $7.3 billion.
Grone went over the timeline for the process. He said Rumsfeld must present his recommendations to the BRAC Commission no later than May 16. The commission - chaired by former Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi - will hold hearings and visit installations through September.
At that point, they will turn their recommendations over to President Bush for his review and approval, Grone said. The list has an "all or nothing" provision. The president must accept or reject the list in total. If he approves, the process moves to Congress.
If the president disagrees with portions of the list, he can return it once to the commission. He may include specific recommendations. The commission can take the list and "change it or not. It's up to them," Grone said, and then return it to the president. If the president still disagrees, the process ends. No president has disapproved a BRAC list.
In Congress, it is still an all-or-nothing effort, Grone explained. Congress can disapprove the list or do nothing, and after 45 days the list becomes law. If all goes well, DoD can begin implementing the law sometime in December, he said.
There are a couple of changes in the process from previous BRAC rounds. First, the recommendations of joint cross-service groups - looking at common functions across the services - have been part of the process. In the past, joint teams could only advise the services.
Military value is the primary consideration for base closure and realignment, but Congress specifically ordered DoD officials to consider surge capabilities in their deliberations, officials said.
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