In a letter sent to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Mattis implored for a new base realignment and closure (BRAC) round after a Department of Defense (DOD) report found it maintains “significant excess capacity.” The report found 19 percent of DOD’s facilities are unneeded.
Maintaining these facilities diverts valuable funds that could go to higher-priority facilities. Not only do these excess facilities drain resources, but they prevent Secretary Mattis from updating the national defense strategy. In his letter, Mattis writes:
“An updated defense strategy must be supported by an updated basing strategy. Since the last BRAC round we have developed new methods of warfare, new technologies, and expanded needs for Warfighter training that require us to assess the military value and effectiveness of our domestic military infrastructure…I must be able to eliminate excess infrastructure in order to shift resources to readiness and modernization.”
The DOD’s report echoes a new Heritage Foundation report that examines previous BRAC rounds and how a new BRAC round can produce even more savings than previous rounds. Despite these reports and a vast coalition of top military officials and bipartisan groups advocating for Congress to authorize a new BRAC round, Congress has been very reluctant to authorize one – the last BRAC round occurred in 2005.
Yet, both reports lauded the savings BRAC rounds have produced. The DOD report stated BRAC provided “the Department with significant annual recurring savings.” According to the Heritage Report, these savings totaled to $12 billion annually – with $4 billion of savings coming from the last BRAC round in 2005.
The DOD report also included revising its proposed BRAC legislation to ensure the next BRAC round would be centered on saving money and maximizing efficiency. This revision implements both the Heritage and CVA proposal of requiring BRAC to be properly focused on end-strength changes. The DOD’s proposed legislation necessitates the Secretary to emphasize recommendations that yield net savings within 5 years and limit the Secretary’s ability to make recommendations that do not yield savings within 20 years.
A new BRAC round with these guidelines are common-sense. It is past time Congress puts aside short-term political considerations and instead considers the national and fiscal improvements a BRAC will bring. In his letter to congressional defense committees, Secretary Mattis summed up how a new BRAC round would be beneficial to the military:
“The BRAC process provides opportunities for military forces to be more effective, for capabilities to be enhanced, and for savings to be applied to higher priorities. It is the only fair, objective, and proven process to evaluate bases using military value as the primary consideration. Now is the time to authorize another round.”
Our military, and every American citizen, cannot afford for Congress to allow taxpayer dollars wasted on excess infrastructure. Congress cannot kick the can down the road much longer – not authorizing a BRAC will only diminish our military’s effectiveness and jeopardize our national security.