Congress and the Pentagon still can’t come to terms on Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). But whether Congress likes it or not, the Department of Defense is looking to reduce its ‘bootprint’ by cutting infrastructure. Federal News Radio recently outlined the DoD vs. BRAC battle, and the Pentagon’s options for unilaterally closing military facilities.
“It’s a much more cumbersome and far less attractive process for us, but it is the other legal avenue we have right now,” said Mike McCord, DoD’s comptroller.
Congress isn’t the only one critical of the BRAC process. A 2013 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report faulted the figures used in the 2005 BRAC, stating the reductions were made using inaccurate numbers that overestimated access capacity.
Failings in the 2005 BRAC, the last formal base realignment conducted, have proven good political fodder for politicians opposed to the process. The 2005 BRAC cost billions more than anticipated, and savings have yet to be seen – 10 years later.
The Pentagon argues that future BRACs would look more like the four earlier rounds conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, and also point that when combined, the total savings for all rounds of BRAC are significant.
Defense officials told Fed News Radio that the recent consolidations and closures in Europe are a precursor to what’s to come in the United States. A total of 15 sites will be returned to host nations the U.K., Germany and Italy. Approximately 1,200 U.S. military and civilian jobs will be lost, and 6,000 others will be relocated.
There’s no doubt the affect on communities is one of the biggest issues making BRAC a politically toxic topic – no member of Congress wants to sign off on a sure end to jobs in their district. Pentagon officials say that with or without Congress, bases will be closed. Whether it comes through an independent commission such as BRAC, some other act of Congress, a Pentagon mandate – or something else entirely – remains to be seen.