Pentagon Official Makes Case for New BRAC Rounds

WASHINGTON, March 8, 2012 — The Defense Depart­ment needs two rounds of the Base Realign­ment and Clo­sure process this year and next to shed excess build­ing space and save mon­ey, the deputy under­sec­re­tary of defense for instal­la­tions and envi­ron­ment told a con­gres­sion­al pan­el today.

The two BRAC rounds would align with the department’s strate­gic guid­ance for a lean­er, more flex­i­ble force as it rebal­ances after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Dorothy Robyn told the House Armed Ser­vices Committee’s readi­ness sub­com­mit­tee in pre­pared remarks.

“Of all the effi­cien­cy mea­sures that the depart­ment has under­tak­en over the years, BRAC is per­haps the most suc­cess­ful and sig­nif­i­cant,” she said.

The department’s fis­cal 2013 bud­get request calls for a 5.5 per­cent reduc­tion in mil­i­tary end strength in the next five years.

“Sim­ply stat­ed, the cuts in force struc­ture that we are imple­ment­ing must be accom­pa­nied by cuts in sup­port­ing infra­struc­ture, includ­ing mil­i­tary bases,” Robyn said. “Absent a process for clos­ing and realign­ing bases, the depart­ment will be locked in a sta­tus quo con­fig­u­ra­tion that does not match its evolv­ing force struc­ture, doc­trine and tech­nol­o­gy.”

Robyn said the expense of main­tain­ing bases that are excess to strate­gic and mis­sion require­ments would force the depart­ment to cut spend­ing on forces, train­ing and mod­ern­iza­tion.

The depart­ment needs to close instal­la­tions not only in the Unit­ed States, for which it needs con­gres­sion­al approval, but also over­seas, where it doesn’t, she said.

“The department’s request for addi­tion­al rounds of BRAC comes at a time when we are look­ing aggres­sive­ly at where we can close bases overseas—particularly in Europe,” Robyn said. The depart­ment already has made sig­nif­i­cant cuts in Europe, turn­ing over more than 100 sites to host nations since 2003, she said. By fis­cal 2015, the Army is expect­ed to close anoth­er 23 Euro­pean sites, she added.

Still, Robyn said, the depart­ment “can do more to con­sol­i­date our infra­struc­ture with the goal of reduc­ing long-term costs while still sup­port­ing our oper­a­tional require­ments and strate­gic com­mit­ments.”

To do that, Robyn said, the depart­ment can reduce the num­ber of “dis­crete” instal­la­tion sites in Europe from more than 300 to about 200 — those which cur­rent­ly house most activ­i­ties — and elim­i­nate excess sup­port infra­struc­ture such as ware­hous­es, admin­is­tra­tive space and hous­ing.

While acknowl­edg­ing that BRAC clo­sures are painful, Robyn said they “have left our mil­i­tary far bet­ter pre­pared to take on chang­ing strate­gic chal­lenges than it would have been had Con­gress and the depart­ment not had the courage to under­take them.”

While the depart­ment retains some author­i­ty to close and down­size instal­la­tions, Robyn said, BRAC is a bet­ter process, allow­ing for more com­mu­ni­ty sup­port.

The depart­ment spends about $40 bil­lion annu­al­ly on build­ing con­struc­tion, sus­tain­ment and recap­i­tal­iza­tion, Robyn said, and an addi­tion­al $15 bil­lion on sup­port pro­grams rang­ing from air traf­fic con­trol to pay­roll to reli­gious and recre­ation­al ser­vices. “Wecan­not afford to main­tain excess capac­i­ty,” she said.

In 2004, the depart­ment had 24 per­cent excess capac­i­ty rel­a­tive to its force struc­ture plans, Robyn said. The 2005 BRAC elim­i­nat­ed only about 3 per­cent of the department’s capac­i­ty, as it was designed most­ly to recon­fig­ure excess space, rather than close it, because the mil­i­tary was in a growth stage, she said.

While some have crit­i­cized the 2005 BRAC as unex­pect­ed­ly expen­sive at $35.1 bil­lion, the sav­ings also exceed­ed that of any oth­er BRAC round, at $4 bil­lion each year, she said.

Robyn asked that Con­gress move quick­ly to approve the BRAC rounds.

“While some may view our request for a round in 2013 as aggres­sive, the mag­ni­tude of the cuts we are mak­ing in force struc­ture means we sim­ply can’t wait,” she said. “Lead­ing U.S. cor­po­ra­tions retain their vital­i­ty and mar­ket posi­tion by being able to adapt quick­ly to changed cir­cum­stances, and the U.S. mil­i­tary is no dif­fer­ent.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)