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U.S. Military Base Closings May Save $49 Billion Over 20 Years

13 May 2005

Expected savings to be used to meet 21st century defense requirements

By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Writer

Washington -- The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff says recommendations by the Pentagon to close a set of domestic military installations will ensure that the United States will continue to have the best trained and equipped military to meet 21st century challenges and threats.

The 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure [BRAC] process “is not a stand-alone event,” Air Force General Richard Myers said during a May 12 Pentagon briefing, “but it’s a necessary step to improving the warfighting capability of the joint force.”

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who met with reporters before the state-by-state list of recommended closings was released May 13, said the purpose of BRAC is to eliminate excess bases and training facilities and redirect the funds to make the U.S. military more effective.  He said this round of domestic basing closings will save an estimated $5.5 billion annually, culminating in a net savings of almost $49 billion over 20 years.

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Michael Wynne announced the planned closing of 33 out of 318 major U.S. facilities and the realignment of another 29 during a May 13 briefing at the Pentagon.  “We are also recommending the closure or realignment of another 775 smaller military locations,” he said, of the department’s submission to Congress.  He said thousands of people participated in the process that resulted in 222 recommendations to make changes in leased space, airfields, and port facilities.

Wynne told reporters that BRAC is an “important component of military transformation.” Myers said BRAC has been sequenced with both the National Security and National Defense Strategies.

Wynne said the BRAC recommendations have been integrated with the overall U.S. Global Defense Posture Review.  Previous BRAC rounds have taken place in 1995, 1993, 1991 and 1988.  The purpose is to reduce overhead and improve efficiency by reducing excess capacity and diverting the resources toward new military requirements.

BRAC requires the services to look ahead two decades, decide in a unified way what requirements must be met, and then restructure military installations accordingly.  Military and civilian defense officials have said that the new recommendations take into account possible future contingency operations and the need to rapidly dispatch military assets anywhere in the world on short notice.  Rumsfeld said 1,000 scenarios and 25 million pieces of data were considered before the recommendations were reached.  Military value was the first consideration in identifying facilities for closure.

Every five years, BRAC filters a set of recommendations from the secretary of defense through a special commission and then forwards them to the president for approval.  The president must approve or disapprove the list as it is received.  If he approves, the recommendations are sent on to Congress where they becomes law in 45 days, unless there is congressional disapproval.

The BRAC Commission will begin holding hearings on the Defense Department’s recommendations May 16, with testimony from Rumsfeld and Myers.  Later in the week, the commission will hear presentations from the military service secretaries.

The BRAC hearing process will conclude by year’s end and the recommendations will begin to be implemented in 2006 and run through 2012.  Wynne said the anticipated financial savings in some instances will be achieved quickly, while others will take longer.

A Department of Defense (DOD) transcript of Wynne’s briefing is available online, as are Rumsfeld’s and Myers’ remarks.

A DOD transcript providing background on the BRAC process from a May 10 briefing is available online, as are the official BRAC Web site and Air Force , Army and National Guard counterpart sites.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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