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BRAC to close 15 major installations, improve Army efficiency

By Eric W Cramer

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 13, 2005) – The Army will close 15 major installations over the next six years and close or realign hundreds of small installations, including Army Reserve and National Guard facilities, if DoD Base Realignment and Closure recommendations released today receive final approval.

Major Army installations slated for closure are: Fort Monroe, Va.; Fort McPherson, Ga.; Fort Gillem, Ga.; Fort Monmouth, N.J.; Newport Chemical Depot, Ind.; Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Kan.; Selfridge Army Activity, Mich.; Mississippi Army Ammunition Plant; Hawthorne Army Depot, Nev.; Umatilla Chemical Depot, Ore.; Lone Star Army Ammunition Plant, Texas; Red River Army Depot, Texas; Deseret Chemical Depot, Utah; Riverbank Army Ammunition Plant, Calif.; and Charles E. Kelly Support Center, Pa.

In addition to closing these installations, the current plan would close 176 Army Reserve and 211 Army National Guard facilities. These will be replaced by 125 multi-component Armed Forces Reserve Centers.

The changes are part of a total BRAC package expected to save the Department of Defense about $50 billion over the next two decades, officials said.

Gen. Richard Cody, vice chief of staff for the Army, said the changes to the reserve-component structure are designed to bring the Army Reserve and National Guard in line with the Army’s new modular, unit-of-action structure.

Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the Army National Guard Bureau, said the changes in the Guard and Reserve centers will not only lead to better efficiency within the units, but will also lead to improved recruitment.

“We hope it will affect recruitment and retention in a positive way,” Blum said. “By divesting ourselves of some of the more remote facilities and moving to areas with better demographics, it should allow for positive change.”

The BRAC proposal also calls for a change in location for a number of large commands and Army functions. Among these is the relocation of the Armor Center, currently at Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Benning, Ga., to become part of a new Maneuver Center there.

“What Knox gets in return,” Cody said, “is we’ll activate a modular brigade combat team there. Accessions Command will go there and the Cadet Command. Human Resources will move out of [leased] space and go to Fort Knox. We’re also moving an air defense artillery brigade from Fort Bliss, Texas, to Fort Sill (Okla.) to create a Fires Center.”

Training and Doctrine Command will move from Fort Monroe, Va., to Fort Eustis, Va., as Fort Monroe closes under the current BRAC proposal, Cody said.

Among many other changes, the BRAC proposal:

-- Relocates Army Materiel Command headquarters to Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

-- Relocates the 7th Special Forces Group from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

-- Relocates Forces Command Headquarters and U.S. Army Reserve Command to Pope Air Force Base, N.C.

-- Stations Third Army headquarters with the Air Force component of U.S. Forces Central Command at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

-- Moves the Installation Management Agency headquarters to Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

-- Activates modular BCTs at Fort Bliss, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C.; Fort Knox, Ky.; and Fort Riley, Kan.

-- Creates a new medical hospital and research facility, the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and builds a new 165-bed hospital at Fort Belvoir, Va.

Whether these changes are approved depends on actions by the BRAC commission, said Michael Wynne, assistant undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

The commission, made up of former legislators and military experts, will forward its recommendations to the president after reviewing the Department of Defense recommendations. It must take action by Sept. 8. The president will then have until Sept. 23 to accept or reject the recommendations in their entirety. If accepted, Congress then has 45 days to reject the recommendations before they become binding.

Specific changes must begin within two years of the recommendation’s acceptance, and must be complete within six years, without interrupting ongoing operations, Wynn said.

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