September 15, 2017
The Pentagon may finally get its wish for a
new round of base closures. After requesting a new round of Base
Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, for each of the last five years, it
appears that support for the initiative is gaining.
The intent of
BRAC is efficiently maximizing readiness; having the right people,
supplies, and support programs in the right places.
decision on proceeding with a new round of BRAC will be made in
conference committee during discussions on the National Defense
Authorization bill. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jack Reed
(D-R.I.), the top two lawmakers on the Senate Armed Services Committee,
filed a joint amendment to the annual defense authorization bill to
authorize a new BRAC. In the House, Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the
number two member of the Armed Services Committee, spearheaded the
BRAC rounds often are justified by billions in
annual savings from the defense budget. However, loss of military
facilities can drastically change the economic dynamic of a region,
occasionally for the worse.
Some lawmakers remain skeptical,
citing the initial losses incurred from the last round of closures in
2005 before any savings could be claimed. This week, Sen. Jim Inhofe
(R-Okla.) penned an op-ed in the Washington Times arguing that resources to conduct a new BRAC could be better spent on military readiness.
with three of the top four members of the Armed Services Committees
actively supporting a BRAC, it looks increasingly likely that the
initiative could make it into the defense authorization bill's final
Though all states are subject to review, five states
harbor over half of all active duty military personnel: California,
Georgia, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. And just the rumors of
another round of BRAC have several states scrambling to establish task
forces to find ways to preserve their bases.
This time, there is a new cause for concern. Typically, BRAC
commissions decide how best to go about closing bases and shifting
resources. The McCain-Reed amendment gives the Government Accountability
Office (GAO) responsibility for picking which bases will be targeted.
recent reports suggesting over 20 percent excess capacity throughout
current military infrastructure, GAO could be looking to make
significant cuts. GAO is a numbers-based assessor, unlike commissions
comprising individuals with knowledge of force-structure needs from past
Given an appropriate business case and the needs of
servicemembers and their families are addressed, MOAA could support a
BRAC. But it is imperative that GAO must look at this as more than just a
“If a BRAC is approved, we will work with our
members to ensure the cascading effects on our retirees and veterans and
their families are being addressed,” says Col. Dan Merry, USAF (Ret),
MOAA's vice president of Government Relations. “And we will have time to
watch this develop, given the lengthy lead time and notification