Congress has the fundamental responsibility of providing for the common defense. In a time where our country faces a $20 trillion debt, it is imperative our defense budget is used efficiently for critical priorities.
Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. John McCain and Ranking Member Sen. Jack Reed have introduced an amendment into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) – which authorizes funding and provides the U.S. military policy – that would help ensure our military is spending its resources more wisely.
The senators’ amendment would authorize a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission. This commission would review all military facilities and mandate any base realignment and closure recommendations achieve a net savings within 10 years.
With the army holding 161 million square feet of excess capacity, it is no wonder why the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment, Lucian Niemeyer, testified before Congress “the time is now” for Congress to authorize a new round of BRAC.
Despite the pleas by military officials and the White House, Congress has been reluctant to implement a BRAC since the last round in 2005 – which produces nearly $5 billion in annual savings. As the structure and needs of the military change, it needs to prioritize critical infrastructure and not continue funding underutilized facilities and infrastructure. In a written statement to the House Armed Services Committee before a recent hearing, Defense Secretary Mattis stressed why the military is pushing so hard for a new BRAC:
“In order to ensure we do not waste taxpayer dollars I would therefore greatly appreciate Congress’ willingness to discuss BRAC authorization as an efficiency measure. That authorization is essential to improving our readiness by minimizing wasted resources and accommodating force adjustments.”
Mattis went on to illustrate how the forecasted savings from the BRAC would be enough money to acquire an additional 300 Apache attack helicopters, 120 F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, or four Virginia-class submarines.
Concerned Veterans for America has been a strong proponent of BRAC and recently signed a coalition letter including organizations as diverse as the Atlantic Council, Peace Action, and the Defense Priorities Initiative. Championing the amendment’s reforms for increased congressional engagement and oversight, the letter also touts the senators’ commitment to maintain costs and improve our nation’s strategic posture.
This amendment prioritizes military efficiency, streamlines operations and eliminates waste. Congress should show they are willing to set short-term political considerations aside and instead consider the national security and fiscal improvements a BRAC will bring. Show your support for an effective and strong defense and send an email to your Senators urging them to pass this crucial amendment.